University of Oulu

Leiviskä, A. (2023). Democratic education and the epistemic quality of democratic deliberation. Theory and Research in Education, 21(2), 113-134.

Democratic education and the epistemic quality of democratic deliberation

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Author: Leiviskä, Anniina1
Organizations: 1University of Oulu, Finland
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 0.2 MB)
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Language: English
Published: SAGE Publications, 2023
Publish Date: 2023-10-20


This article examines the challenges that an epistemic account of deliberative democracy, according to which democratic deliberation has ‘truth-tracking’ capacities, encounters in contemporary polarized societies, and then discusses how these challenges could be addressed through democratic education. The focus of the article is especially on two phenomena indicated by recent empirical research: the increasing public distrust in experts and motivated reasoning that affects citizens’ belief-formation. The article suggests that some of the idealizing core assumptions of epistemic democracy make it difficult to recognize and address these phenomena as serious challenges to the epistemic quality of public deliberation. With these challenges in view, the article then addresses the question how the deliberative model of education should be revised or complemented for it to prepare students for epistemically good-quality public deliberation. The article proposes two pedagogical approaches: (1) fostering students’ epistemic trust through a ‘realistic’ account of science education, and by familiarizing students with adequate criteria for recognizing trustworthy experts, and (2) teaching integrative negotiation, which focuses on examining and explicating students’ interests and needs in situations in which motivated reasoning prevents them from meaningfully engaging with educationally and epistemically productive practices.

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Series: Theory and research in education
ISSN: 1477-8785
ISSN-E: 1741-3192
ISSN-L: 1477-8785
Volume: 21
Issue: 2
Pages: 113 - 134
DOI: 10.1177/14778785231187304
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 516 Educational sciences
Funding: The author(s) received no financial support for the research, authorship and/or publication of this article.
Copyright information: © The Author(s) 2023. This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License ( which permits any use, reproduction and distribution of the work without further permission provided the original work is attributed as specified on the SAGE and Open Access page (