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Nation states in the twenty-first century confront new challenges to their political legitimacy. Borders are more porous and less secure. Infectious disease epidemics, climate change, financial fraud, terrorism, and cybersecurity all involve cross-border flows of material, human bodies, and information that threaten to overwhelm state power and expert knowledge. Concurrently, doubts have multiplied about whether citizens, subject to manipulation through the internet, have lost the critical capacity to hold rulers accountable for their expert decisions. I argue that the primary threat to democracy is not the public's epistemic incompetence but a slow dissolution of the deliberative practices that are essential for self-rule. We need a radical reimagining of the sites, forms, and performances of democratic deliberation. For this purpose, the American state needs to reconstitute a public square open to citizens who are deemed to be epistemically competent and capable of informed judgment.


Jasanoff, Sheila. "The Vanishing Square: Civic Learning in the Internet Age." Hastings Center Report, January-February 2021.