Globalisation, legitimacy and public deliberation

Abstract

Most significant policy issues facing humanity reach across national borders. Consequential political decisions with cross-national effects are frequently made by states, non-state organisations, and corporations. Under these circumstances, it is widely acknowledged that it is important to conduct public deliberation at the global level. Below this shallow agreement, however, lies much less clarity on how deliberative principles can be applied at the global level. This challenge is the focus of my thesis. I begin by arguing that existing theories of global deliberation have not yet satisfactorily answered two questions. The first pertains to the agents involved: who speaks? The second relates to procedure and institutional design: where should global deliberation take place? In both cases I suggest that modifications to prevalent views in the existing literature are required. To press this argument, the thesis identifies several epistemic and non-epistemic values that public deliberation seeks to realise, before testing candidate proposals for institutionalising global deliberation against these values. I then turn to the primary contribution of the thesis, on the question of how supranational public deliberation should be conducted. To do this I conceptualise and address the problem of global public justification: how, if at all, is it permissible to impose a set of international laws and rules on a world population that is deeply pluralistic in its moral and political attitudes? There have been three main attempts to resolve this problem, locating legitimacy in either competition, neutrality or dialogue between different value systems. I argue that neither of the first two attempts succeeds. I then develop and defend the third route to global legitimacy, outlining its general features, and illustrating how it should proceed. To do this, I analyse a particular value or principle which would be likely to emerge from philosophical dialogue as a publicly justifiable value for use in global decision-making: the value of ‘oneness’

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Last time updated on 09/05/2024

This paper was published in LSE Theses Online.

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