Imagining Modern Democracy

A Habermasian Assessment of the Philippine Experiment

By Ranilo Balaguer Hermida

Subjects: Critical Theory, Democracy
Paperback : 9781438453866, 348 pages, July 2015
Hardcover : 9781438453873, 348 pages, December 2014

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Table of contents

Part I. Habermasian Theory of Law and Democracy
1. The Paradoxical Duality of Modern Law
Communicative Action and Social Coordination
Twofold Dimensions of Legal Validity
The Normative Sense of the Modern Rule of Law
The Relation of Law to Democracy
The Discourse Principle as Ground of Legitimacy
The System of Rights as Conditions of Autonomy
State Authority and Administrative Power
2. The External Tension between Social Facts and Law
Restoring the Normative Sense in Democratic Theory
Constructing a Sociological Model of Power and Circulation
Democratic Lawmaking and the Public Sphere
Avenues for Agenda-Building in the Political System
Prospects for a Proceduralist Paradigm of Law
Part II. Philippine Democracy: Vision and Actuality
3. Constitutional Norms for a Democratic Nation
The Framing of the Philippine Constitution
Freedom and Rights in the Philippine Constitution
A. The System of Initiative and Referendum
B. The Party-List System
C. Civil Society and Nongovernmental Organizations
D. Local Government Autonomy and Decentralization
4. Bridging the Divide between Rhetoric and Practice
Enforcing the Rule of Law sans Exceptions
A. The System of Initiative and Referendum
B. The Party-List System
C. Civil Society and Nongovernmental Organizations
D. Local Government Autonomy and Decentralization
Building a Culture for a Democratic Way of Life

Examines democracy in the Philippines using the political thought of Jürgen Habermas.


Winner of the 2016 Outstanding Scholarly Work Award for the School of Humanities presented by Ateneo de Manila University

This book is a pioneering study of Philippine democracy, one of the oldest in the Asian region, vis-à-vis Habermasian critical theory. Proceeding from a concise examination of the theory of law and democracy found in Habermas's Between Facts and Norms, Ranilo Balaguer Hermida explains how the law occupies the central role in both the legitimation of political power and the attainment of social integration. He then discusses how Habermas proposes to resolve the tension that exists in modern society between democratic norms and social facts, through the adoption of a lawmaking procedure whereby the informal sources of issues and opinions from the public sphere are allowed to develop and interact with the formal deliberations and decision processes inside the political system. He also explores certain provisions of the present Philippine Constitution that were expressly intended to restore democratic institutions and processes destroyed by decades of martial law, as well as the problems and hindrances that stand in the way of their full implementation.

Ranilo Balaguer Hermida is Associate Professor of Philosophy at the Ateneo de Manila University in the Philippines. He received his PhD in philosophy from Monash University in Australia.


"Imagining Modern Democracy presents a clear and convincing application of philosophical theory to practical politics. Hermida, using Habermas's theoretical reflections on law and democracy, provides a basis for understanding democratic practice in the Philippines. The book is essential reading for those interested in both Habermas's work and its implications for emerging constitutional democracies. " — David M. Rasmussen, Editor-in-Chief, Philosophy and Social Criticism