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No skinny chicks : on the deliberative capability of pro-anorexics Lougheed, Devon Richard


Questions of basic human capabilities for reasoning, speech, communication, and judgment are central to many contemporary theories of deliberative democracy. Many contemporary theorists of deliberative democracy suggest that the equal capacity of participants to advance persuasive claims is a necessary precursor to an effective, legitimate deliberative outcome. In this paper, I examine two strains of this 'capacity-first' assumption and highlight the potential problem of the active censuring and censorship of truth-claims in way that is fundamentally unjust - before the claim has even been voiced. Instead, I argue that deliberation can actually serve as a mechanism of adjudication of truth claims in a way that is fundamentally more free. I test my argument with regards to a specific case, that of pro-anorexics or "proanas." I present and analyze various responses to pro-ana claims: the biomedical model; the culture of disgust; a sociocultural response; and a postmodern feminist perspective. I argue that open dialogue with pro-anas, rather than pre-discursive censorship, is in this case more fair, free, and quite probably strategic. Finally, I highlight the potential of my case-study-based analysis to offer lessons for deliberative democratic theory at large.

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