Collective Reason or Individual Liberty: Deliberative Democracy and the Protection of Liberal Rights

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Can a government of the people and by the people also be a government for the people? In this chapter, Assaf Sharon questions the deliberative democratic attempt to bring democracy and liberalism into a unified normative framework. On the standard view, democracy and liberalism are distinct ideas that give rise to competing normative demands. Democracy is the institutional realization of sovereignty by the people. Liberalism is committed to the protection of individual liberties. Deliberative democrats claim that liberal commitments are entailed by their democratic ideal; to deny an individual’s liberties would be to exclude her from public decision-making. Sharon raises concerns by pointing out that public deliberation requires a widely shared democratic ethos, the creation and maintenance of which might require suppressing intolerant, non-egalitarian, and anti-democratic sensibilities. Given that such suppression stands to violate individual liberties, Sharon concludes that government by collective deliberation might be incompatible with a robust commitment to individual liberties.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationIdeas That Matter
Subtitle of host publicationDemocracy, Justice, Rights
EditorsDebra Satz, Annabelle Lever
Place of PublicationNew York, NY
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages32
ISBN (Electronic)9780190904982
ISBN (Print)9780190904951
StatePublished - 2019


  • Collective self-government
  • Deliberative democracy
  • Democracy
  • Democratic ethos
  • Individual liberties
  • Liberalism
  • Public deliberation
  • Public reason


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