Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy
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Democratic deliberation is credited with a variety of virtues, including its possi- ble usefulness in resolving, or at least ameliorating, inter-cultural conflicts. This paper ques- tions this claim. First, it overlooks that the facts and principles involved in these conflicts generally prove contestable and that such contestation is likely to be greater the less homoge- nous societies are. Second, it neglects that many, if not most, citizens have neither the time nor the inclination to acquire the conceptual and factual knowledge needed to try and over- come these differences. As a result, the more inclusive and popular deliberation becomes, the less suitable it may be for overcoming cross cultural disagreements. Indeed, it has the poten- tial to exacerbate rather than narrow the differences between majorities and minorities. These conclusions are drawn from an empirical review of a Canadian debate about aborigi- nal rights that followed a controversial Supreme Court of Canada decision and comparing the character of deliberation in three contexts: the legal community, the print media and legislative bodies.