Review Of "Democracy Without Shortcuts: A Participatory Conception Of Deliberative Democracy" By C. Lafont

Document Type

Book Review

Publication Date


Published In



This book makes a significant contribution to the literature defending a broadly deliberative view of democracy. The text argues against taking any "shortcuts" to full participatory deliberative democracy because, as claimed by Lafont (Northwestern Univ.), they lead to "blind deference." In the course of her carefully argued monograph, Lafont criticizes deep pluralist conceptions of democracy, elite epistocracy, and lottocratic conceptions of deliberative democracy, in addition to defenses that rely on minipublics. Each of these shortcuts erodes mutual empathy and civic solidarity, alienating citizens. Blind deference results from these shortcuts, Lafont contends, because laws and policies coerce citizens by means of authorities under which the citizens themselves can have no confidence that their actual values and considered judgments will be taken into account. In the last half of the book Lafont defends her positive contribution by laying out in depth and detail a fully participatory conception of deliberative democracy. She argues in a general Habermassian way for mutual justification and in a general Rawlsian way for public reason. In the course of her defense she shows that judicial review need not be opposed to participatory deliberative democracy. Critical reviews of her position can be found in the Journal of Deliberative Democracy, vol. 16.2 (2020), including one by Jürgen Habermas, along with Lafont’s replies. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Lower- and upper-division undergraduates. Graduate students, faculty, and professionals.


This work is freely available courtesy of Choice Reviews. The review has been reproduced in full in the abstract field.

This document is currently not available here.