Abstract: Deliberative democracy often includes an unrealistic ethical and/or psychological expectation that individuals be willing to revise their positions in light of counter arguments and alternative reasoning. Public reason advocates introduce an equally unrealistic standard of public debate when they insist that citizens and their representatives ought to be constrained by a duty of civility – a form of epistemic humility. Rather than revisability or publicness, in this paper I introduce the weaker standard of criticizability. Criticizability is an attribute of utterances and is dependent on systemic features of the public sphere in which the utterances are made. It is not an ethical or psychological disposition. In stressing criticizability, this model of deliberative democracy shifts the focus from speakers to audience in the public sphere. What becomes important is not whether individual speakers are willing to change their mind or suppress their deepest convictions it is whether those who hear them speak also hear the counter arguments and criticisms.
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