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Reading: On Dewey, Habermas and Deliberative Democracy


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On Dewey, Habermas and Deliberative Democracy


William R. Caspary

Gallatin School at NYU, US
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Alison Kadlec brings Deweyan Pragmatist principles to bear on the challenge of overcoming power asymmetries in public deliberation. This enables the design of settings and processes in which citizens of every social class, educational level, and cultural background can participate effectively. These ideas, on the design of democratic deliberative forums, appear as the concluding chapter of a larger work devoted to elaborating a “critical pragmatism.” Kadlec addresses the frequent criticism that Dewey is insufficiently critical – that he lacks a theory of social structures of power, and of the distortions of communication that result from the exercise of that power. She does a great service in bringing out the politically critical dimension in Dewey’s thought, and systematically refuting the mistaken reading of Dewey as insensitive to power relations. This exploration of Dewey’s critical pragmatism generates a lively comparison and contrast with Habermasian critical theory.

How to Cite: Caspary, W. R. (2008). On Dewey, Habermas and Deliberative Democracy. Journal of Public Deliberation, 4(1), 10. DOI:
Published on 04 Mar 2008.


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