Vindicating Engaged Citizenship and Participatory Democracy

Master's Thesis, 2015

60 Pages, Grade: 1,3 (17/20 in lux. Notensystem)


“Citizenship is not just a certain status, defined by a set of rights and responsibilities. It is also an identity, an expression of one's membership in a political community.“
(Kymlicka/Norman [1994] 369)


Civic participation and democracy are widely discussed issues. However, motivations for a citizen to actually participate are rarely presented. The present thesis will defend the notion of engaged citizenship as an attitude of habitual interest and care in relation to an individual's political community. It is to follow public concerns and discourse with an active mind and actual action if seen necessary. Further, the desirability of engaged citizenship in a democratic context will be vindicated, and its necessity for a participatory deliberative democratic system will be explicated. Moreover, it will be argued that participatory democracy is the most adequate political framework to foster engaged citizenship. Engaged citizenship and participatory democracy mutually condition each other. In this context, the thesis aims to provide incentives for the individual citizen to engage with his or her political community and social as well as natural environment. Guided by a Wittgensteinian and Habermasian framework, the democratic state is interpreted not only as a form of governance, but also as a reciprocal mode of political life that stays in need to be supported by an engaged citizenry.

Table of Contents

1) Preliminary Thoughts ... 4

2) Engaged Citizenship and Normativity ... 10
a) Merits and Motives seen through the Lenses of a Political Community ... 10
b) Individual Steps facilitated ... 17

3) Reciprocity and Deliberative Participatory Democracy ... 26
a) Reciprocity: Amy Gutmann and Dennis Thompson ... 26
b) Participatory Conceptions of Democracy and Private Autonomy: Jürgen Habermas and David Held ... 29

4) Contentions ... 40

5) Concluding Thoughts ... 51

6) Works Cited ... 55

7) Appendix ... 59
a) Tocqueville on the 'tyranny of the majority' in the American model of democratic state ... 59
b) On the Kantian conception of a state in its relation to the citizen (Metaphysik der Sitten §45-49) ... 60

List of Abbreviations:

Gutmann and Thompson: G/T
Pears and McGuinness: P/M
Wittgenstein, Philosophische Untersuchungen: PU
Wittgenstein, Tractatus logico-philosophicus: TLP

1) Preliminary Thoughts

In order to frame the subsequent argumentation, this chapter will give a brief understanding of some core notions. First of all, what is engaged citizenship? And why would it matter to argue in favour of it? What is more: why would one, it may be asked, merely vindicate engaged citizenship instead of justifying it?1 Further, how is it related to participatory democracy?

In my understanding, to be an engaged citizen means to relate to one's political community in an attitude of habitual interest and care. This means to follow public concerns and discourse with an active mind and actual action if seen necessary. Participatory democracy is the form of deliberative democratic method, which places political responsibility primarily on the citizen as being actively involved in its discursive processes. The adequateness of vindication as opposed to justification will be elaborated upon within a Wittgensteinian framework in chapter 2.b. For now, it may merely be stated that a justification aims at objective (or, universal) validity while a vindication is a subjective point of view; nevertheless, a vindication can be supported by arguments. Since the call for engaged citizenship is a normative one, to speak of 'justification' would suppose the possibility of a universal normative necessity. Yet, there cannot be any watertightly proven universal normativity. Normativity can only stem from person-intrinsic motives, gradually acquired in interrelation with the social and natural environment, i.e. the 'necessity' to act according to a normative claim can only arise as a personal conviction of it to actually be such. Therefore, the vindication expresses a desideratum, an affirmative stance concerning a specific issue, rather than an (objective) necessity. Only when intersubjectively shared, a normative claim can aspire to be called 'universal' by provision. Hence, for the present purposes attempting a justification2 appears unsuitable. The arguments of this essay thus must be aimed not to ultimately prove their 'truth' or necessity, but to pass through the court of intersubjective discourses to be judged convincing or not convincing.

Provisional 'universal' normativity can be understood as Habermasian 'communicative reason'3. Similar to that, also John Rawls has pointed out the notion of 'public reason' as the collected reason of legal democratic citizens (cf. Rawls 213). However, Habermas speaks of communicative reason, or public norms, as arising from the collected input of all “potentially affected, insofar as the latter participate in rational discourses” (Habermas, in: Eckersley 112). Thereby, he does not merely include legal citizens, but indeed any potential stakeholder in an issue. Since this paper focuses on citizenship as attitude, and not as legal status, it is therefore feasible to set Rawls's notion aside in order to give room for an elaboration on Habermas and related thinkers. More than that, while Rawls confines 'public reason' to “'constitutional essentials' and questions of basic justice” (Rawls [2005] 214, cf. 227), Habermas does not mention a specific thematic scope to 'communicative reason'. On the contrary, he himself has criticised this limitation as too narrow and in practise “unrealistic since almost all controversies can be tapered into essentials or basic questions” (Habermas [2009] 128, transl. mine, slightly modified). Further, while Rawls demands from agents involved in political discourse to set aside or vindicate by secular reasoningy4 so-called “comprehensive”, i.e. non-public, reasons [cf. Rawls [2005] 247-252), Habermas holds that e.g. religiously informed comprehensive reasoning cannot and need not be detached from public reasoning. It is essentially intertwined with the identity of a believer and must not be turned into a 'burden' on behalf of political detachment. Instead, both religious and non-religious citizen are asked to practise openness in the active search for a 'common language'. Non-public reasons must be 'translated', i.e. made understandable, and put onto a publicly reason-able basis; the public as such is required to employ a charitable disposition in trying to argue (and possibly disagree) with each other as opposed to against another. (cf. Habermas [2009] 133-143, 149-150) In this regard too, Habermas's concept is more useful since participatory democracy aims for as much political reciprocity5 as possible. In a concrete legal context, however, Rawls's position grants support to the merely pleading nature of calls for 'honouring public reason', i.e. for honouring the engaged role a citizen may take in public discourse. He also emphasises that such call cannot be enforced by law (cf. Rawls [2005] 213).

Most importantly, the concept of engaged citizenship will be shown to be an expression of how we want to live. 'We', that is each individual in interplay with his or her social as well as natural environment. Engagement shapes our life-world (understood in a Habermasian sense6) in that through engagement we affect our social and natural surrounding. We do so by positioning ourselves towards manifest issues, such as environmental (e.g. climate change, pollution of air and water, waste-disposal) and social (unemployment, xenophobia etc.) crises. Via engagement we can make our concerns heard in a public (political) context. Moreover, if we wish to live in a reciprocal democratic system, engaged citizenship is, together with an adequate institutionalised method, the precondition for such system to function properly. This is because a reciprocal system demands to be legitimised through public political discourses, which in turn is due to the intersubjective nature of provisionally universalised normativity. Normativity as incentive for action cannot emerge unless commonly deliberated and must not be enforced unless commonly agreed upon (this point will be elaborated upon in chapters 2 and 3). In a democratic system, it will always be liable to change; therefore it is provisional.

What then, do I mean by 'reciprocal' politics? 'Reciprocal' here is used in the basic sense of free action being granted to the individual as long as he or she respects, instead of merely tolerates7, the freedom of action of others; in 'others' I include all potential participants in the social and natural environment. Social and environmental concerns must be treated with equal care, the natural environment must as much be respected as the social one8. Genuine freedom arises from interrelatedness, not from atomistic individuality. Reciprocal politics try to find a way to adequately advocate and enact the outlined thought.

Public political discourses need to be fostered since normativity can only become convention (i.e. reaching a certain degree of universality) by relative9 mutual acceptance. Yet, why would we want to take the trouble of being an engaged citizen just in order to save the democratic system? Here again two motivations might seem convincing: first, democracy most likely is epistemically superior to an epistocratic absolutism (cf. Farrelly10, cf. Habermas 451). Second, reciprocal democracy is adverse to political absolutism too, and thereby the best option to conciliate individual freedom and institutionalised governance. Hence, a reciprocal democracy would be an object of aspiration because it allows the individual as well as the political community to flourish if perceived as community (cf. Mendelssohn [1989] 333-338).

However, by abstracting from purely systemic approaches to the question of political method I will ask not what the crux of the general game is, but who the crook in it may be; who is missing to the functioning of reciprocal democracy? In a reasonably reciprocal democratic system the government is shaped considerably by the people. So if a democratic system is the method aspired for, then it must be made possible by a conglomeration of individuals who consider themselves a part of a whole and act accordingly. The best system or method cannot take effect if it is not actualised by agents affirming it and carrying it out (cf. Habermas [1992] 7, in: Kymlicka 353). Therein lies at the same time power and burden of the individual. Thus, an entirely private life destroys democracy and fosters absolutist governmental tendencies. This is because, according to Habermas, it lies in the nature of democracy that government ought to only hold part of the power – another is carried by the citizenry, and a third by the free market (cf. Habermas [1998] 98). Yet, the free market is performed by individuals and co-operations. So, if citizenry does not act at all, either government or free market players who have discarded any mindset of political commonality will accumulate power (far too often used for their own purposes, cf. Blommaert)11.

Before entering a brief review of understandings of citizenship, let me specify what I mean by 'political community' in its contrast to 'society'. Generally, a 'political community' denotes any type of political construct, may it be on a municipal, regional, national, transnational or global level. Hence, to be a citizen of a political community does not require a particular nationality or 'state-citizenship' in a legal sense. It is an assemblage of individuals not only as embedded in the same institutional framework, but also as regarding themselves as such commonly grounded. Therewith, they concern themselves with their immediate social and natural surrounding and also with their relation to a wider communal context in the mode of habitual care for both.

A society, on the other hand, I hold to be a loose assemblage of individuals, concerned mostly with care for themselves and only their immediate social and natural surrounding, even though legally speaking all are just as much embedded in the same institutional framework. 'Society' can thus be taken as the denominator for the neo-liberalist economy-driven type of social construct in which individuals are nothing but atomistic individual agents concerned with their own affairs (cf. Eckersley 242), while 'political community' aims to enlarge the scope from not only comprehending a human being as an individual, but also as a citizen. Evidently, this point regards the self-understanding of an agent; legally speaking, an individual, at least in the usual case, is always also a citizen.

There are different understandings of 'citizenship' and 'citizenship-theory'. As to the first notion, a distinction can be made between “citizenship-as-legal-status” and “citizenship-asdesirable- activity” (Kymlicka/Norman [1994] 353). As I clarified, the present thesis will focus on the latter. Within this framework, different strands of 'citizenship theory' are available: enquiries into civic virtues, into citizenship identity (ibid.), and further, as introduced by Kymlicka, citizenisation (Kymlicka [2012] 59-63). In the following chapters, particularly civic virtues and their impartation as well as the concept of citizenisation will be treated in further detail since in those lies the key to depart from mere talk of duties and rights (cf. Kymlicka/Norman [1994] 354-359). Thinkers like Rawls, for example, still cling on to emphasising a so-called “(moral) duty of civility” (Rawls [2005] 224). Especially when defined as being merely moral (as opposed to being legally prescribed and enforceable), it is unhelpful to employ the talk of 'duty'. Such wording will only stir up resentment and quite valid demands of being given a reason as to why one should care to act in a certain moral way. Instead, the way must be to foster the development of a voluntarily publicly spirited political culture. If at all, engaged citizenship may arise as a personal desideratum, not as a requirement externally imposed. Regarding the motivation to commonality, i.e. a sense of shared identity, several perspectives can be found. Rawls opts for a common 'sense of justice' to lead to shared identity (ibid. 376/377), which is mainly developed in processes of upbringing and social habituation (cf. Rawls 453-478)12. Yet, Kymlicka and Norman point out that “[t]he fact that people in Norway and Sweden share the same principles of justice is no reason for them to regret the secession of Norway in 1905” (ibid. 376). It may have well been the case that the various layers of community (family, town, region, sense of ethnical belonging, sense of commonality or difference through dialect or language) bring forth different focal points to which the 'sense of justice' refers itself. The basic 'sense of justice', i.e. the “willingness to work for (or at least not to oppose) the setting up of just institutions, and for the reform of existing ones when justice requires it” (Rawls 474) therefore can stay identical, but have different consequences as it may be differently applied. For the Norwegians, a 'just institutional reform' was one of independence and sovereignty.

Contrary to Rawls, Kymlicka emphasises a shared history as a common denominator in a world of political constructs made up of manifolds of ethnicities, religions, languages, traditions etc. (Kymlicka [1997] 17-20). It is a strange assumption though to think of history as a secure basis of shared identity when at the same time embracing the concept of multicultural, multiethnic and multilingual states. For, why would all citizens in a multifaceted political community necessarily share a same history? Surely, there are cases like Australia, the USA or Canada, who by default built their common history on multi-ethnicity. In a large number of countries, however, it is much more likely that with different ethnicities, languages, cultures etc. also different histories of nationality (and nationalities), groundedness and migration come along. Indeed, one does not even need to refer to the 'number of countries' which have been growing into modern states since time immemorial. Even in Canada, USA and Australia, historical groundedness has been in the process of establishing itself for a long time (since the original settlements) by now, so that contemporary migrants in the 21st century could not as easily just take up the identity of, say, Canadian citizens. For some it is unproblematic to merge two or more senses of belonging into one identity, for others it is a struggle. Here again, it seems more promising to focus on each individual attitude towards a community, not regarding all the different backgrounds (including histories) and group identities within a larger political construct. Therefore, as soon as one prevalent language of a specific community is shared (or at least translatable) so as to enable discourse13, the Habermasian notion of 'constitutional patriotism' (cf. Habermas [1998] 642) deserves more attention. In the course of this thesis it will be the guiding notion for the attainment of civic commonality. Thereby, it is assumed that a sense of shared identity can arise if the citizens of a given community not only subscribe to the same political method, but also identify with the political framework represented by the constitution of this community. Whatever background someone comes from, everyone can consciously choose (or decline to do so) to affirm such basic political coding14. This is not to say that a constitution has utmost authority. On the contrary, especially if civic identity is tied to a political document and symbol, then a heightened awareness towards its principles and a potential active engagement for modifications from within the political context are required – and up to the citizen to be realised. In emancipating the concept of citizenship from its romantic15 legacy, Habermas made it fit for a modern and contemporary understanding from which further considerations can be drawn. By revisiting models brought forth by Amy Gutmann, Dennis Thompson, Jürgen Habermas and David Held, chapter 3 of this paper will deal in closer detail with the question of how such engaged citizenship can be systemically fostered and sustained. A synthesis of their thoughts will emerge; it will subsequently be further explicated and defended (chapter 4).

2) Engaged Citizenship and Normativity

a) Merits and Motives seen through the Lenses of a Political Community

A reciprocal society can only function through genuine democracy. Democracy can only function if the demos is interested, engaged with an active mind or attitude respectively. To accept this assertion, we must come to understand that every public action and attitude is political. The public sphere is the political sphere since our public action and attitude are representative of how we relate to the whole of our wider community. The choice of how to relate is a political choice. It affects the way we choose to live together in respectful deliberation or in merely tolerating negotiation (cf. G/T 62-63). On this point, support is provided by Descartes's advice 'to see oneself as part of a whole' (Descartes/E. of Bohemia 112), since ...

[…] if one related everything to oneself, one would not fear harming other men greatly when one wanted to take something small for oneself. One would have no true friends, no faithfulness, and in no virtue. On the other hand, in considering oneself as a part of the public, one takes pleasure in acting well toward everyone […]. (Ibid. 112)

Descartes's point relies on his Stoic and Aristotelian background beliefs, i.e., in order to live a fulfilled and happy life, virtue must be acquired. Yet, virtue can only come about through friendship. If one's relation to other people in particular, and the world in general rests on an attitude of friendship, then life can run its course in harmony, and the social environment, the wider whole of which one is a part, will at least more often be a safe haven to come back to if needed than it would be the case in a society made up of atomistic individuals.16 If, however, individual interests are always dominated by entirely private wanting, then the world in response will turn into an oppositional force; something to be aware of, never giving a rest. In sum, Descartes encourages us to realise that

[…] one must […] think that one does not know how to subsist alone and that one is, in effect, one part of the universe, and, more particularly even, one part of this earth, one part of this state, and this society, and this family […]. (ibid. 112)

In a concrete political context, this appeal may recall the idea of 'rooted cosmopolitanism' , i.e. to be grounded equally in local identity and global concern. It is an important concept, which, however, must be carefully examined in its plenitude of realisations. (cf. Kymlicka [2012] 71)

A closer look at Will Kymlicka's work on citizenship-issues and related notions will help to understand why democracy can only function if it is sustained by an engaged citizenry. Before introducing his concept of 'citizenisation', Kymlicka contributed to the debate on civic virtues and possible 'seedbeds' of such17. According to him, within a framework of democratic political constructs school education plays the essential role in imparting skills necessary to position and enact oneself as a 'responsible' citizen. Those virtues and skills include, among others, autonomy, agency, consent, trust, participation, authenticity and self-determination (Kymlicka [2012] 61). Further, a certain public-spiritedness, as well as civility, a sense of justice and solidarity are required (Kymlicka [1997] 3-4). While the first set enables us to critically evaluate issues of public concern and to engage in meaningful as well as respectful discourse, the second aims at providing a basis for this discourse: a political community can function properly only if its citizens have an interest in common matters, and in tackling them will not only fight for their own benefits but also consider the other.

According to Kymlicka, schools need to provide a differentiated education that not only teaches facts, but also, and most importantly, the capacity to critically reflect upon them, individually and in interpersonal discourses. Yet, why must it be schools which take on this task? And why must education foster critical thinking, i.e. train the capacity for reasoning and argument? Kymlicka argues (cf. ibid. 8-13) that no other institution can take the role of schools as here presented, since markets (as in neo-liberal economic theory) may “teach initiative, but not a sense of justice or social responsibility” (ibid. 8). Political participation in itself would help to develop the capacity to cooperate, but it does not necessarily give an incentive to do so in a manner of public-spiritedness. It can just as well inspire to form coalitions in order to suppress other, marginalised, interests. Finally, voluntary associational networks, such as churches, families, environmental groups, workers' unions, ethnic associations etc., may teach a sense of civility and mutual respect, but not necessarily beyond their own membership; they may even teach intolerance towards other groups. Kymlicka further argues that by default no direct civic education should be required from voluntary associations – their very aim may be to share a more private way of living as a recreational retreat from public affairs; further, “it would be absurd to ask church-goers to abstain from appealing to Scripture in deciding how to run their church. […] The reason why people join churches, families, or ethnic organisations is not to learn civic-virtue.” (ibid. 10) Hence, such an aim must not be imposed on them; their association is their private sphere. Thus, these institutions can be seen as good supplements to civic education, each conveying a particular skill or value contributing to civic education. However, in markets, practices of political participation and voluntary associational networks “people will not automatically learn to engage in public discourse, or to question authority, […] since these spheres are often held together by private discourse and respect for authority” (ibid. 11, italics mine). The core, i.e. the all-binding value for engaged citizenship is public-spiritedness. The keys, i.e. the enabling skills are critical thinking as well as the readiness to convince and be convinced in reason-able discourse. Therefore, given that schools are the only further institutional basis that may reach society in its near-entirety, school education must encourage “critical reasoning and moral perspective that defines public spiritedness” (ibid. 11). Other networks, or also markets, individual initiative etc. may but need not support the cause of public spiritedness.

Naturally, schools are not untainted, not spared from potential problems and additional requirements. First of all, schools exist in a tension between the obvious need to convey factual knowledge (in order to lay a foundation upon which reasoning can become meaningful), and the (here adopted) need to impart critical thinking. In consequence, authority and autonomy of thought and action need to be well balanced18. For instance, moral theoretical basics (e.g. not to harm the integrity of a person) may be taught straightforwardly, while their complex frames of application could be critically discussed (e.g. the debate on abortion). Further, to facilitate making the connecting between critical thinking and public-spiritedness, it would be good practice to raise awareness that each individual way of life is an example, a prototype, of a possible way of living. Hence, the educative task may be to encourage the rethinking of the manifold of possible ways of living and the deliberation about their adequacy in relation to individual and general (social and environmental) needs19 - whereby the question of what a 'general' need might include would be a good point to start from.

In addition, Kymlicka discusses separate schools, with a specifically religious or ethnic orientation. Those may lack the ability to convey a sense of respect and cooperation with people different from their creed or mode of living, yet may be more successful in community-building when among themselves (cf. ibid. 11-14). He also points towards a possible conflict between personal autonomy of school attendants and the received tradition in families, religious groups etc. - but this may be the sacrifice to make when aiming for a freely deliberating political community. Lastly, civic education shall not take the form of glorifying the nation, its past and its heroic figures (cf. ibid. 17-21) – it shall reflect upon those, to facilitate the embrace or rejection of a relevant matter after individual critical evaluation. As Kymlicka says, “education is not simply a matter of teaching the basic facts [but also] particular habits [and] virtues” (ibid. 21). Critical school education will thus provide the ground on which further negotiations about the ethics of a political community can take place; negotiations about how we want to live and treat each other.

To this end, it might even be helpful to not only introduce courses on logical reasoning into school curricula, but also to review and critically discuss various political and social theories. Since ethical theories are usually taught anyway, it may not be too much to ask to present various political streams of thought of how to think about the citizen, state, and the relation between them. Klaus-Peter Hufer and Jens Korfkamp have indicated usefully how such schooling can be put into practice on the various age-grades. Well known methods such as gaining insight through the engagement with pictures or stories, as well as through the Socratic dialogue as adapted for educative purposes by Leonard Nelson20, Gustav Heckmann and Detlef Horster (cf. Hufer/Korfkamp 54-57, 61) can develop critical thinking, confidence, openness etc. in order to be employed later in democratic political debates such as described by Gutmann and Thompson (ch. 3). By applying such methods, a range of political theorists and/or specific themes can as well be imparted as critical engagement with them. The overall aim would be to take leave from a pure transferral of 'paradigms of knowledge' (cf. Hufer/Korfkamp 20-27).


1 I do not refer to 'citizenship' as understood in the legal sense of belonging to a particular state. Instead, the emphasis is placed on the sense of belonging to a political community. Thereby, to primarily identify oneself as citizen of a municipality satisfies the concept as much as the identification with a transnational political construct. The sense of belonging is a matter of inclination.

2 In an manner of speech, it is of course possible to subjectively justify, i.e. to justify to and for oneself; the point here is that objectively (universally) this cannot be the default case.

3 “Es gibt keine reine Vernunft […]. Sie ist eine von Haus aus in Zusammenhängen kommunikativen Handelns wie in Strukturen der Lebenswelt inkarnierte Vernunft.”/“There is no pure reason […] It is by nature an incarnate reason embedded in contexts of communicative action and in structures of the life-world.” (Habermas [1985] 374, transl. mine)

4 The former is denoted as 'exclusive view', while the latter Rawls calls the 'inclusive view'.

5 Habermas himself emphasises the need for “reciprocity [in order to] vindicate each other before one another” (Habermas [2009] 142, transl. mine)

6 Habermas stresses the mutual interdependence of culture, society and person. The day-to-day-life-praxis of communication constitutes and shapes the overall life-world.(Habermas [1998] 107). Generally speaking, the life-world is the unquestioned framework of shared assumptions that constitute a given community or society (cf. Reese-Schäfer 61, 191). The concept's significance for present purposes lies in its power to explain that it is the individual citizen, the collective citizenry who by default constitute their own life-world through their action and attitude. 'By default' they must constitute it, since the human agents are caught up in the life-world and thereby confronted with particular situations that need be reacted upon – and hence hold the potential to modify their overall context (cf. Habermas [1981, Bd. 2] 198-202).

7 Respect embraces reciprocal exchange, while tolerance merely grants non-interference. (cf. G/T 62-63)

8 This is for the simple reason that we will not be able to care for each other socially if the natural ground on which our physical subsistence depends would be destroyed.

9 = relative to the method of democratic decision making, e.g. 2/3 majority.

10 Farrelly, in his excellent discussion of the two concepts, takes into account the reality of “cognitive limitations and biases of humans” (Farrelly 7), which are omitted in Plato's vision of the impeccable philosopher-king. He then opts for a Deweyian conception of democracy, as a mode of sharing the “revis[ion of] current beliefs, so as to weed out what is erroneous, [and] to add to their accuracy” (Farrelly 14/Dewey 256), by not disregarding the importance of individual expertise embedded in the framework of democracy (Farrelly 18). Sadly enough, Plato's at the same time intellectually brilliant, wise and self-less political leaders are more than rare, and thus democracy seems to be the best actually possible option.

11 For this reason, Hayek-style 'neo-liberalism' can never be the politico-economic way to a well-being of the multitude.

12 The felt sense of justice in some way leads over to the felt duty of civility. In regard to voting, Rawls indicates that civility means not to vote according to mere personal preferences, or according to what the individual might hold true or right, but instead, to vote for what serves best to the good of the political community (cf. Rawls [2005] 219-220). It is dubious, however, whether such a distinction can be drawn at all. How can even a perfectly informed and reasonable agent with certainty discern between what he holds to be the best for the community and what is actually the best for the community? Further, there cannot be a general rule to 'always vote for the best of the community' and never out of personal preference. There must be room for a balance, (moral) freedom for weighing in each individual case whether the subjective or the general good is more important, and how the two might converge most easily. A participatory democracy precisely lives from diverse input, not from a stable 'common good'.

13 e.g. English or French as lingua franca in EU-institutions, or the various national languages in their national contexts

14 I will not concern myself specifically with particular issues regarding migration and minority rights, but aim for a general account of citizenship-as-attitude, presupposing a basic sense of belonging already to be established. The named particular subject matters are too broad for present concerns and could only be treated in an additional article.

15 In the romantic conception, citizenship and nationhood are irretrievably bound up. Common history, culture, ethnicity and language make up the nation. Throughout modern, postmodern and contemporary theory, those bounds were gradually loosened and finally discarded.

16 cf. Marshall 139/146/158, Aristotle ch. VIII 1 ff., Descartes 101-105

17 The guiding thought to this debate is the assumption that in order to foster civic activity and to aid issues such as rising voter apathy and political radicalism (cf. Kymlicka [1997] 2) two problems must be tackled : the lack of public-spiritedness and the lack of opportunities to exercise this public spiritedness once attained (cf. Kymlicka [2012] 54).

18 Often, schools tend to place more emphasis on an authoritative facts-only approach.

19 One might relate to a Sartrean account of responsibility here – to choose freely how to live, but to be aware that one chooses for all of humanity, for anyone may potentially act as oneself does, or may be influenced by ones actions etc. (cf. Sartre [1945]). This, by the way, is much easier to grasp than a Kantian 'ought', which is, together with Utilitarian concepts, much more often taught in schools when it comes to moral education.

20 cf. Nelson's excellent lecture 'Die Sokratische Methode', Göttingen, 1922. Nelson turned Socrates's pseudodialogues (where the person speaking with Socrates mostly is confined to Yes- or No-answers) into genuine engagement with the own background assumptions where the teacher says almost nothing, while the pupil does most of the thinking-process him- or herself.

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Vindicating Engaged Citizenship and Participatory Democracy
University of Luxembourg  (Institut für Philosophie)
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Julius Bertz (Author), 2015, Vindicating Engaged Citizenship and Participatory Democracy, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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