Deliberative democracy has the potential to increase consideration of, and sympathy for, the interests of animals.
The CASJ has supported ground-breaking research by Professor Rob Garner and Dr Lucy Parry that has produced vital insights about how more ‘deliberative’ democratic processes are likely to be positive for animal protection.
Academic research into democracy has seen a ‘deliberative turn’ over the past quarter of a century. Deliberative democracy critiques traditional ‘aggregative’ types of democracy – that focus simply on counting votes while ignoring how people arrive at their voting preference – as significantly flawed. One serious weakness is that they are too open to abuse by powerful interests – such as animal harm industries – with money and the capacity to manipulate public opinion and the implementation of legislation. Sadly, this situation is a good description of the biased and dysfunctional state of British animal-related public policy.
In contrast, under deliberative democracy, legitimate decision-making requires reasoned and detailed discussion involving input from all affected interests, including representatives of nonhuman animals. This can take place in arenas such as ‘citizens’ juries’ that are set up specifically to examine an issue and are comprised of representative samples of the public. Alternatively, it can be implemented in a systematic manner whereby high quality deliberation by legislators, implementing authorities, affected interests and the public is encouraged throughout the political decision-making process.