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Synopsis

This collection of essays focuses on the roles that coercion and persuasion should play in contemporary democratic political systems or societies. A number of the authors advocate new approaches to this question, offering various critiques of the dominant classical liberalism views of political justification, freedom, tolerance and the political subject. A major concern is with the conversational character of democracy. Given the problematic and ambiguous status of the many differences present in contemporary society, the authors seek to alert us to the danger, that an emphasis on reasonable consensus will conceal exclusion in practice of some contending positions. The voices of vulnerable peoples can be unconsciously or even deliberately silenced by various institutional processes and operating procedures and a strong media influence can change the tenor of conversations and even lead to deception. To counter these factors, a number of the essays, in differing ways, urge the fostering of local community conversations or democratic agoras so that democratic debate and conversation might maintain the vitality necessary to a strong democratic system.

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