WHY THE DELIBERATIVE IDEAL JUSTIFIES PUBLICITY – EVEN IF PUBLICITY MAY UNDERMINE DELIBERATION
This paper critical assesses those arguments in democratic theory which
defend the role of secrecy in politics in epistemic terms, that is, by emphasizing
some of the negative effects that publicity in deliberation can have (namely:
obscuring the informational process, favoring plebiscitory rhetorics, and replacing
open discussion with conformist behaviors and/or bargaining). Based upon the
analysis of the 2010-2011 Belgian Sixth State Reform, the paper argues that, even
if publicity can produce negative effects on deliberation, it cannot be proven that
these effects are more severe than those produced by a closed-doors deliberation.
Furthermore, it argues that an epistemic justification of closed-door deliberation
could not be accepted by a reasonable citizen: the justification of publicity does not
rely on its epistemic positive effects, but on the fact that the assessment and
definition of these cannot be left to the negotiating parties.