What does "deliberative democracy" really mean? At the broadest level, I'm committed to the notion that public debate has a vital role in flourishing democracies, such that "democratic legitimacy" derives from the free exchange of reasoned arguments rather than the whims of an ill-informed majority. In short, I think that politics should be driven by public debate about the common good. Call this position "broad deliberative democracy".
While I was in Arizona, Thomas Christiano pointed out to me that many prominent deliberative democrats today are really expounding a much narrower position, which adds further restrictions on what can count as 'public reason'. Any views which fall outside the 'overlapping consensus' must be excluded, for fear of forcing one's comprehensive moral views on others. But, Christiano pointed out, it's not clear what justifies the asymmetry here. In excluding the first group's views from consideration, isn't this effectively forcing on them the other group's rejection of their position? (This is, of course, a common argument against strict secularism.)
I'm not too sure what to make of all this. I'd like my position to remain as 'broad' as possible, but I wonder whether the internal logic of it entails further restrictions. I previously suggested that receptivity could guide us here. That is, we should welcome anyone (with any views) to join the public conversation, so long as they remain open-minded and receptive to the views of others. This criterion would at least rule out dogmatic sectarian groups that demand unshakeable faith (and hence are closed to opposing views). But is that enough? Is it really 'receptive' to offer the sorts of religious or otherwise 'private' reasons that you couldn't reasonably expect others to recognize? Or is it a precondition of reasoning together that we first commit to arguing only from the common assumptions that can be shared by all?
If so, what would that leave?