Deliberation, participation and knowledge


  • Birgir Hermannsson



Deliberative democracy, epistemic democracy, public administration, quality of government.


In this article I will analyze the democratic theories of Vilhjálmur Árnason, Gunnar Helgi Kristinsson and Jón Ólafsson, compare them with each other and with theories which emphasize general elections as the only democratic method. The aim of deliberative democracy is consensus built on reason, the aim of a reformed executive branch is a better quality of government and professional policy making, and the aim of epistemic democracy is to use the knowledge found among the general public to formulate the right policy or at least a better one. The models of democracy used by Vilhjálmur Árnason to analyze Icelandic democracy receive critical attention and his account of deliberative democracy is placed within a more general academic discourse on deliberative democracy. His conception of deliberative democracy is criticized for being too narrow and institutional. Vilhjálmur Árnason and Jón Ólafsson need to clarify the relationship between deliberative democracy and epistemic democracy and elections. Vilhjálmur Árnason, Gunnar Helgi Kristinsson and Jón Ólafsson are all criticized for placing excessive emphasis on reason and knowledge in relation to democracy and too little emphasis on democracy as a venue for contested opinions.

Author Biography

Birgir Hermannsson

Political science specialist



How to Cite

Hermannsson, B. (2020). Deliberation, participation and knowledge. Icelandic Review of Politics & Administration, 16(1), 1–22.



Peer Reviewed Articles