Door: Peter Pappenheim

Democracy is a cooperative venture requiring adequate coordination of decision-making. Our impotence to provide guidance to countries in Africa and the east block in establishing democracy, our inability to take the decisions required to meet today’s challenges (environment, social cohesion) and the general disaffection of the public with politics are evidence that today’s democracies do not meet the conditions for effective cooperation: a shared objective and an agreement on the means to reach that objective, both requiring the ability to communicate effectively. The objectives of society are an expression of the prevailing cosmology, the view which man has of the world, including himself. Agreement on the means requires decisions about facts (engaging truth and objectivity, especially in science) and about everybody’s rights and duties, justice. In a democracy, the means for reaching an agreement is argumentation. Each of these five elements pertains to a separate field of philosophy. To fulfill their coordinating function they must be shared and explicit.

If a minimum of agreement on these ”foundational” philosophies is lacking, then only the pressure of circumstances – usually the threat of a common enemy – may force the participants to come to an understanding even if their views are incompatible; such agreements fall apart as soon as the common threat disappears. The post cold-war plight of western democracies provides a perfect illustration. Whatever else he may be, man is a living being. The latest findings about life and the role of information have profound consequences for social science and philosophy, especially the necessity of an integration function – both internal and external – which is not adequately fulfilled in today’s compartmentalized academic institutions. The search for consensus on the above philosophical foundations of social decision-making in a democracy therefore must be part of one project: this book. Besides hopefully unequivocal and generally acceptable concepts and proposals on the above five subjects, the integrated approach is shown to expose as pseudo-problems many classic paradoxes and dilemmas. Because most readers will be interested mainly in its core and its possible applications, it is divided into two volumes. Volume one (243 pages) contains the findings, theory and conclusions. Volume two (190 pages) contains the confrontation of its propositions with the relevant classical problems and works in the fields concerned plus some capita selecta showing conclusions which could be drawn from its propositions in fields not directly related to social science and decision-making. As the title shows, that book deals with the theoretical foundations of democracy. In the next folder, “From theory to practice”, you will find applications of the theory of interest to the ‘doers’, starting with a working definition of democracy and some practical conclusions of general interest and some specific subjects.


The Conceptual Foundations of Decision-making in a Democracy, 2003. P.Pappenheim. Published and produced in 2003 by Barjesteh van Waalwijk van Doorn & Co, Uitgeversmaatschappij. ISBN 90-5613-072-2. Price including delivery: Paperback: Netherlands: 29,50.- euro, Europe : 34,50.- euro, other countries: 44,50.- euro. Hard cover: Netherlands: 39,50.- euro, Europe: 44,50 euro, other countries :54,50 euro. If it is difficult to obtain it via your retailer, you can order it by contacting this site.

Available on internet on DBNL