Deliberative Freedom

Deliberative Democracy as Critical Theory

By Christian F. Rostboll

Subjects: Political Theory, Political Philosophy, Democracy, Legal Studies
Paperback : 9780791474600, 322 pages, July 2009
Hardcover : 9780791474594, 322 pages, June 2008

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Table of contents


        Why “Dimensions” of Freedom?
        Overview of the Book

1. Deliberation, Aggregation, and Negative Freedom
        Beyond the Aggregation and Transformation Dichotomy
        The Negative Freedom Tradition and Democracy
2. Republican Freedom and Discursive Status
        Domination without Interference

3. Preferences and Paternalism
        Nonautonomously Formed Preferences Paternalism
        Collective Self-Legislation and Freedom as Status

4. Freedom as Accommodation: The Limits of Rawlsian Deliberative Democracy
        The Accommodation of Reasonable Doctrines and Negative Freedom
        Public Reason and Reasonableness
        Political and Moral Autonomy
5. Freedom as Emancipation: Deliberative Democracy as Critical Theory
        The Critique of Ideology and Internal Autonomy
        Deliberation and Politicization
        Social Critics, Triggering Self-Reflection, and Public Autonomy

6. Democratic Ethos and Procedural Independence
        The Interdependence of the Ethical and the Moral
        Deliberation and Privacy
        Democratic Ethos
        Thinking for Oneself

7. Freedom, Reason, and Participation
        The Epistemic Dimension of Deliberative Democracy
        Reason, Freedom, and Radical Democracy
        Participation, Freedom, and Neutrality

8. Conclusion: Toward a Theory of Deliberative Freedom
        Four Conceptions of Freedom Reinterpreted
        A Multidimensional Theory of Deliberation and Freedom
        On the Need for Institutional Reform and Economic Redistribution


The first sustained look at the relationship between deliberative democratic theory and the topic of freedom.


In Deliberative Freedom, Christian F. Rostbøll accepts the common belief that democracy and freedom are intimately related, but he sees this relationship in a new and challenging way. Rostbøll argues that deliberative democracy is normatively committed to multiple dimensions of freedom, and that this, in turn, makes it a distinct model of democracy. He presents a new version of deliberative democracy that rejects the prevailing synthesis of Habermasian critical theory and Rawlsian political liberalism, and contends that this synthesis obscures and neglects important concerns in terms of freedom and emancipation. In addition, Rostbøll explores how the many dimensions of freedom supply a new and fruitful way to address issues such as paternalism, elitism, rationalism, and neutrality.

Christian F. Rostbøll is Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark.


"This is a thought-provoking and carefully argued book. It makes a unique contribution that adds substantially to our understanding of how deliberative democracy should work. " — Kevin Olson, author of Reflexive Democracy: Political Equality and the Welfare State

"The author does an excellent job of explaining how the theory of deliberative democracy requires a multidimensional concept of freedom. No one had done this yet, but it needed to be done. " — Christopher F. Zurn, author of Deliberative Democracy and the Institutions of Judicial Review