Centre for Democratic Politics: Alfred Moore Guest Seminar

The Centre for Democratic Politics (CDP) will be hosting a seminar by Alfred Moore (University of York).


Deliberative democracy is often framed as the opposite of competitive democracy, and deliberation as a mechanism is often thought to be inherently consensual or cooperative and contrasted with competitive mechanisms, such as party competition or agonistic contestation. This paper argues that competition is in fact a fundamental and essential aspect of deliberative politics. It shows two ways in which deliberation is essentially competitive. The first is adversarial debate, on the model put forward by J S Mill. The second is competition as parallel striving for a prize in the hands of a third party or audience, a competition of ‘all for all’, on the model put forward by sociologist Georg Simmel. Deliberation as competition in this second sense emphasises creativity and dynamism in articulating values and interests that are not yet crystallised. This analysis offers a new way of framing the core argument of deliberative democracy. Politics is conflictual, and the deliberative response is not to wish away such conflict, but to conduct the conflict by restricted means, the means of persuasion. Deliberative responses to politics can can be cooperative but they can also be competitive. The paper concludes with a plea for separating the discussion of the values and functions of democratic competition from the particular mechanism of parties and the stylised ‘competitive’ model of democracy.



Alfred Moore headshot

Alfred Moore works on political theory, with particular interests in deliberative democracy, social epistemology, politics of expertise and technology and democracy. Until 2017, he was a research fellow at Cambridge University working on the Leverhulme Trust project ‘Conspiracy and Democracy: History, Political theory, Internet’. He has a PhD from the University of Bath, and has taught philosophy at University College Cork (2006-2009), held a European Union Marie Curie Research Fellowship (2009-2012) to work at the University of British Columbia on the project ‘Epistemology and Democracy in Complex Societies’, and was a Democracy Fellow at the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation at Harvard University in 2012. He has published in a wide range of journals, including Political Studies, the Journal of Political Philosophy, Critical ReviewEpisteme, Economy and Society, and Social Studies of Science, among others.