Deliberation and discord

According to deliberative democratic theorists, deliberation is when individual behaviors and perspectives are transformed through collective action to achieve mutual understanding and agreement. A utilitarian approach to informing action, John Dewey notes deliberation is hallmarked by its restorative social quality: “It is to resolve entanglements in existing activity, restore continuity, recover harmony, utilize loose impulse and redirect habit.”

However, these efforts are not mathematical nor objective, nor rendered valid by merely weighing the ends against the means.  Rather, deliberation is chiefly a process through which people make choices, based on social ethics proscribed by institutional arrangements, to enlarge their mutual understanding and sympathy.

This deliberation, according to Dewey, requires improving the means of communication among and between citizens that provide a depth and range of domain expertise, as well as being informed by scientific discoveries. Dewey believed democracy was the social embodiment of intelligence informed by mutual understanding and respect of all — towards all — citizens.

Yet, more times than I care to admit, I find myself in situation replete with unresolved entanglements, discontinuity, discord — usually a result of unharnessed impulse and stubborn habit.  In those moments, I’ll just blame it on the night and the wine. I would like to think Dewey would understand.