Integrating Agonism with Deliberation - Realising the Benefits

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In “Agonism as Deliberation” (Knops 2007) I suggest a reconciliation between Mouffe’s agonist version of democracy, adjusted to preserve consistency, and deliberation. Here I reply to two subsequent criticisms of this project: Gürsözlü (2009) and Fives (2009). Although both hold agonism and deliberation incompatible impossible, they do so from opposing perspectives. Gürsözlü defends Mouffe’s agonism as distinct and coherent on the basis of what he considers a correct understanding of her concept of hegemony. Fives argues Mouffe’s approach is separate but incoherent, and should be rejected. Against these two conflicting positions, I seek to demonstrate not only that integration between agonism and democracy is possible, but that it has distinct benefits for both agonism and deliberative theory. Divested of its contradictory assertion that universal rational consensus is impossible in principle, agonism can be interpreted as theory of the moment of difference within a broader deliberative dialectic that seeks to move from more to less partial consensus. Conceived in this way, we can better appreciate how these two approaches can complement one another, in pursuing shared goals, rather than the static and unnecessary opposition offered by the two critics I address here.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)151-169
Number of pages18
JournalPhilosophy and Society
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2012


  • democracy
  • agonism
  • deliberation
  • Mouffe
  • Habermas

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Social Sciences


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