The Center for Critical Democracy Studies

CCDS Speaker Professor Peter Stone Asks, “Why Open Democracy?”

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Professor Peter Stone

On Wednesday, February 9, 2022, Demos21, a series of lectures, roundtables and workshops organized by AUP’s Center for Critical Democracy Studies (CCDS), hosted guest speaker Professor Peter Stone from Trinity College Dublin. Dr. Stone led a discussion on his forthcoming paper, “Why Open Democracy?” The hybrid event saw audience members attend both in person in CCDS’s conference hall in the Quai d’Orsay Learning Commons and online. 
Stone’s paper examined the concept of open democracy as introduced by Hélène Landemore in her recent book Open Democracy: Reinventing Popular Rule for the Twenty-First Century. Stone’s talk engaged with questions such as “What are the foundational elements of democracy?” and “What can be envisioned beyond electoral democracy?” He argued that open democracy places mini-publics and volunteer activists at its core, separating the demos from an active role in decision-making processes. Throughout the discussion, Stone reflected on the significance of a variety of practices and social goods associated with democracy and democratic institutions, such as deliberation, sortition and referenda. 

He also discussed the emphasis placed on political equality in theorizing open democracy and contrasted it with traditional conceptions of democracy. Where generally democracy is associated with equality at an individual level, it is associated with popular sovereignty at a collective level. In his paper, Stone argues that “the attractiveness of open democracy thus turns critically upon the question of whether democracy must advance collective values alongside individual values such as political equality.” Following Stone’s presentation, attendees raised questions relating to representation and sovereignty.