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2002 - American Political Science Association Pages: 38 pages || Words: 10899 words || 
1. Ellis, Elisabeth. "Provisional Liberalism, Part I: Why Deliberative Democratic Theory Requires a Provisionally Liberal Concept of Time" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Political Science Association, Boston Marriott Copley Place, Sheraton Boston & Hynes Convention Center, Boston, Massachusetts, Aug 28, 2002 <Not Available>. 2020-01-24 <>
Publication Type: Conference Paper/Unpublished Manuscript
Review Method: Peer Reviewed
Abstract: This paper introduces a much larger project on the history, theory, and application of the idea of provisional liberalism. Here I argue that more than a decade of work in deliberative and discursive democratic theory has produced a solid record of improvement over previous models of democratic theory, but that these gains have been accompanied by very serious shortcomings. I propose to save the advantages and jettison the disadvantages of deliberative theory by revising it in accordance with the theory of provisional liberalism, and in particular, provisional liberalism?s concept of time.
This move is no mere abstraction, but entails a very specific set of methodological recommendations for democratic theorist, who, I argue, ought not to require deliberation to produce either quick consensus or individual political enlightenment. Rather, realizing the standards set by deliberative theory should promote dynamic shifts in the arguments that are possible to make successfully in public. Instead of looking to sophisticated versions of public opinion research for information on individual-level preferences and how they change, deliberative democratic theory should attend to the various literatures on the dynamics of political argument itself. These include work in the history of concepts, discourse theory, the languages of political thought, and empirical literatures on the causal power of ideas.

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