Does Deliberation Promote Ecological Citizenship? The Convergence Hypothesis and the Reality of Polarization

  • Jozef KeulartzEmail author
Part of the The International Library of Environmental, Agricultural and Food Ethics book series (LEAF, volume 26)


This chapter will subject Bryan Norton’s well-known ‘convergence hypothesis’ to a critical assessment with a view to improve our understanding of the possibilities and difficulties of environmental citizenship. I will argue that Norton holds overly optimistic expectations regarding the transformative force of democratic deliberation. Firstly, Norton consciously ignores the role of power relationships and strategic negotiations in political will-formation. Secondly, Norton also has a too narrow view on ethical discourse itself: he only focuses on conceptions of the good life within single communities and neglects the plurality of often incompatible conceptions between different communities. To illustrate the inevitability of bargaining on the one hand and the importance of inter-communal ethical tensions on the other, I will discuss the wolf debate in Finland that started after the country’s accession to the EU in 1995.


Bryan Norton Convergence hypothesis Environmental citizenship Democratic deliberation The Finnish wolf debate 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute for Science in Society, Radboud UniversityNijmegenThe Netherlands

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