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Discourse Theories on Toleration - Dictionary of Arguments

Gaus I 162
Toleration/Discourse theory/Bohman: (...) the necessary conditions for deliberative politics are not exhausted by explicit rules of justification or the distribution of power in decision making. Besides the background of common knowledge of such rules and of a shared political culture, democracy in general and deliberative democracy in particular require a particular communicative infrastructure. Without the effective operation of implicit norms of communicative success as a resource available to all, formal procedures and institutions, no matter how well designed, will not succeed in distributing power in accordance with explicit norms of political freedom, equality and publicity (Bohman, 1996(1): ch. 3).
Implicite/explicite norms/Problems: The lack of consideration of the relation between implicit norms of communicative success and explicit norms for the distribution of power has led to practical deficits in normative theories of discursive politics.
Gaus I 163
Besides constitutional reform (>Constitution/Ackerman), limitations on expression may demand the formation of alternative public spheres, the developed forms of expression of which expand the pool of reasons and the styles of acceptable public communication in the larger public sphere. In all of these cases, the critic is equipped with the reflective abilities of a participant in a communicative process, not the least of which entails the ability to challenge the correctness of the communicative process itself. But in this case, circularity is avoided because the critic does not have to start from scratch: bootstrapping of new communicative possibilities begins with the ability to participate in those areas of everyday communication, no matter how small, which are not distorted by power. (>Power/Przeworski).
At the very least, reflection produces gains in freedom by permitting speakers to become aware of the ways in which implicit violations of norms limit public functioning and inhibit those very corrective and transformative performances that might change the conditions of communication. >Toleration/Scanlon.
Gaus I 164
Toleration/weak and strong/Bohman: Toleration in the strong sense extends not directly to reasons as such but to the perspectives that inform these reasons and give them their cogency. Before a reason can first be seen as a reason and then potentially as one that passes the
critical scrutiny of all citizens, the perspectives of others and the experiences that inform them must be recognized as legitimate; in light of this inclusion of their perspective, groups recognize themselves as contributing to democratic decisions. The toleration of others' perspectives is then part of recognizing them as equal members of a political community, despite the potential for persistent disagreements and deep conflicts. >Toleration/Scanlon, >Toleration/Bohman.


1. Bohman, James (1996) Public Deliberation. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.


Bohman, James 2004. „Discourse Theory“. In: Gaus, Gerald F. & Kukathas, Chandran 2004. Handbook of Political Theory. SAGE Publications


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Explanation of symbols: Roman numerals indicate the source, arabic numerals indicate the page number. The corresponding books are indicated on the right hand side. ((s)…): Comment by the sender of the contribution. Translations: Dictionary of Arguments
The note [Author1]Vs[Author2] or [Author]Vs[term] is an addition from the Dictionary of Arguments. If a German edition is specified, the page numbers refer to this edition.
Discourse Theories
Gaus I
Gerald F. Gaus
Chandran Kukathas
Handbook of Political Theory London 2004


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Ed. Martin Schulz, access date 2021-06-18
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