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Habermas' discourse theory stresses the autonomy of public deliberation transcending the spontaneous emergence of private networks of legal relationships between individuals. Only the public discourse which is detached from the inertia of overlapping practical forms of coordination can refer to the ideally designed social work of legitimated interpersonal relationships. The democratic constitution is regarded as a legal institutionalization of the priority of the public forum of discourse. Conceptions related to classical liberalism would question the cognitive potential of public deliberation, and even deny its productivity as a normative frame of reference for (post-)modern societies which are confronted with the challenge of uncertainty and the continuous process of self-transformation.