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A Very Brief History

(p.13) One Deliberation:
Imagining Deliberative Democracy in the Early American Republic
Sandra M. Gustafson
University of Chicago Press

This chapter offers a brief account of the history of deliberation. Deliberation in a general sense refers to personal reflections and conversations directed at producing well-informed decisions about a course of action. This understanding of deliberation draws on classical political theory, notably the works of Aristotle and Cicero. In The Politics Aristotle defined deliberation as “the special business of political understanding” and identified the deliberative element as one essential component of a well-ordered constitution, relating it to the democratic principle that “the multitude ought to be in power.” This principle is itself connected to Aristotle's ethical view of society, which holds that individual flaws can be corrected in a collective decision-making process. It discusses the deliberation and democracy in the early American republic as well as theories of republicanism and deliberative democracy.

Keywords:   deliberation, political theory, Aristotle, Cicero, democracy, republic, American history, republicanism

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