National Baha’i elections, conducted world-wide without nominations, competitive campaigns, or parties, challenge the emerging consensus that the only truly democratic elections are multiparty elections in which each party’s candidates compete freely for votes. National Baha’i electoral institutions are based on three core values: respect for the inherent dignity of each person, the unity and solidarity of persons collectively, and the justice and fairness of institutions. While liberal political philosophy interprets respect for dignity exclusively in terms of equality and freedom, the (...) Baha’i model interprets dignity to require respect for the equality, freedom, and nobility of each person. The perfectionist focus on nobility helps explain the distinct features of national Baha’i elections and, in particular, the ban on campaigning. In light of ongoing concerns about the character of the electoral process in actually existing democracies, further research into Baha’i elections and their philosophical foundations provides a promising basis for rethinking widely held liberal assumptions about how democratic elections must be conducted. (shrink)
The review argues that Talisse's epistemic defense of democracy in his "Democracy and Moral Conflict," albeit novel and interesting, falls prey to an epistemic analogue of the problem of reasonable moral pluralism that Rawls famously posed for moral justifications of democracy.
This short article will seek to explore the causes, and possible solutions, of what seems to be the current freezing of the Turkish constitution-making process that has had some dramatic successes in the 1990s and early 2000s. I make the strong claim that democratic legitimacy or constituent authority should not be reduced either to any mode of power, even popular power, or to mere legality. It is these types of reduction that I find especially troubling in recent Turkish constitutional struggles, (...) where the legal claims of two powers — the government-controlled legislative and the judicial branches — to structure the constitution are not backed by sufficient political legitimacy. In effect these two powers that claim their constituent authorization, rather implausibly in my view, from either the democratic electorate or from an original constituent power, because of their conflict threaten to freeze the constitution-making process that very much needs to be continued and concluded. I end the article by making a suggestion for one possible constitution-making procedure that would be both legitimate and legal. (shrink)
Governments compel their subjects to obey laws and duly empowered commands of public officials. Under what circumstances is this coercion by governments morally legitimate? In the contemporary world, many say a legitimate government must be democratic, and, with qualifications, I agree. (Let us say that in a democracy all nontransient adult residents are eligible to be citizens and each citizen if free to vote and run for office in free elections that determine who shall be lawmakers and top public officials.) (...) More controversially, I hold that what renders the democratic form of government for a nation morally legitimate (when it is) is that its operation over time produces better consequences for people than any feasible alternative mode of governance. (shrink)
Democratic instrumentalism is the combination of two ideas. One is instrumentalism regarding political arrangements: the form of government that ought to be instituted and sustained in a political society is the one the consequences of whose operation would be better than those of any feasible alternative. The second idea is the claim that under modern conditions democratic political institutions would be best according to the instrumentalist norm and ought to be established. “Democratic instrumentalism” is not a catchy political slogan apt (...) for car bumper stickers. To my knowledge people have never marched in solidarity under its banner. In fact it is a dreary political abstraction. Yet it has a lot going for it, morally, politically, and intellectually. This essay defends democratic instrumentalism.1 The democratic instrumentalist opposes the doctrine of the divine right of kings along with the idea that aristocrats are inherently more worthy than commoners and as such are uniquely entitled to rule. Striking a more controversial note, the democratic instrumentalist also opposes the suggestion that each adult person has a fundamental moral right to be admitted as a full member of some political society, entitled to run for office and vote (on a one person, one vote basis) in free elections that select the public officials in top government posts and directly or indirectly determine the content of the laws and policies that the government enforces on all members of the society. Call this the right to a democratic say.2 Here a moral right is an individual claim that others ought to honor. If one has a moral right, one is wronged if others do not honor it; a given right is constituted by specified duties that specified others are bound to fulfill. A fundamental moral right holds independently of social and political arrangements, cultural understandings, or people’s opinions. It also holds, at least to some degree, independently of the consequences that would ensue if it were upheld or not upheld.3 A fundamental moral right might be hedged with conditions.. (shrink)
This paper addresses a problem for theories of epistemic democracy. In a decision on a complex issue which can be decomposed into several parts, a collective can use different voting procedures: Either its members vote on each sub-question and the answers that gain majority support are used as premises for the conclusion on the main issue (premise based-procedure, pbp), or the vote is conducted on the main issue itself (conclusion-based procedure, cbp). The two procedures can lead to different results. We (...) investigate which of these procedures is better as a truth-tracker, assuming that there exists a true answer to be reached. On the basis of the Condorcet jury theorem, we show that the pbp is universally superior if the objective is to reach truth for the right reasons. If one instead is after truth for whatever reasons, right or wrong, there will be cases in which the cbp is more reliable, even though, for the most part, the pbp still is to be preferred. (shrink)
When the Supreme Court in 2003 struck down a Texas law prohibiting homosexual sodomy, it cited the right to privacy based on the guarantee of "substantive due process" embodied by the Constitution. But did the court act undemocratically by overriding the rights of the majority of voters in Texas? Scholars often point to such cases as exposing a fundamental tension between the democratic principle of majority rule and the liberal concern to protect individual rights. Democratic Rights challenges this view by (...) showing that, in fact, democracy demands many of these rights. Corey Brettschneider argues that ideal democracy is comprised of three core values--political autonomy, equality of interests, and reciprocity--with both procedural and substantive implications. These values entitle citizens not only to procedural rights of participation (e.g., electing representatives) but also to substantive rights that a "pure procedural" democracy might not protect. What are often seen as distinctly liberal substantive rights to privacy, property, and welfare can, then, be understood within what Brettschneider terms a "value theory of democracy." Drawing on the work of John Rawls and deliberative democrats such as Jürgen Habermas, he demonstrates that such rights are essential components of--rather than constraints on--an ideal democracy. Thus, while defenders of the democratic ideal rightly seek the power of all to participate, they should also demand the rights that are the substance of self-government. (shrink)
In a recent article, Thomas Christiano defends the intrinsic justice of democracy grounded in the principle of equal consideration of interests. Each citizen is entitled to a single vote, equal in weight to all other citizens. The problem with this picture is that all citizens must meet a threshold of minimal competence. My argument is that Christiano is wrong to claim a minimum threshold of competency is fully consistent with the principle of equality. While standards of minimal competency may be (...) justifiable, these standards justify political inequality. This paper explores the relationship between equality and democracy in terms of minimal competency, demonstrating how minimal competency is justified and why it is inegalitarian in interesting ways. (shrink)
In The Public and Its Problems, a classic of social and political philosophy, John Dewey exhibits his strong faith in the potential of human intelligence to solve the public's problems. In his characteristic provocative style, Dewey clarifies the meaning and implications of such concepts as "the public," "the state," "government," and "political democracy." He distinguishes his a posterior reasoning from a priori reasoning, which, he argues permeates less meaningful discussion of basic concepts. Dewey repeatedly demonstrates the interrelationships between fact and (...) theory. (shrink)
The contemporary theory of epistemic democracy often draws on the Condorcet Jury Theorem to formally justify the ‘wisdom of crowds’. But this theorem is inapplicable in its current form, since one of its premises – voter independence – is notoriously violated. This premise carries responsibility for the theorem's misleading conclusion that ‘large crowds are infallible’. We prove a more useful jury theorem: under defensible premises, ‘large crowds are fallible but better than small groups’. This theorem rehabilitates the importance of deliberation (...) and education, which appear inessential in the classical jury framework. Our theorem is related to Ladha's (1993) seminal jury theorem for interchangeable (‘indistinguishable’) voters based on de Finetti's Theorem. We also prove a more general and simpler such jury theorem. (shrink)
Under the assumptions of the standard Condorcet Jury Theorem, majority verdicts are virtually certain to be correct if the competence of voters is greater than one-half, and virtually certain to be incorrect if voter competence is less than one-half. But which is the case? Here we turn the Jury Theorem on its head, to provide one way of addressing that question. The same logic implies that, if the outcome saw 60 percent of voters supporting one proposition and 40 percent the (...) other, then average voter competence must either be 0.60 or 0.40. We still have to decide which, but limiting the choice to those two values is a considerable aid in that. Key Words: Condorcet Jury Theorem • epistemic democracy • voter competence. (shrink)
May's theorem famously shows that, in social decisions between two options, simple majority rule uniquely satisfies four appealing conditions. Although this result is often cited in support of majority rule, it has never been extended beyond decisions based on pairwise comparisons of options. We generalize May's theorem to many-option decisions where voters each cast one vote. Surprisingly, plurality rule uniquely satisfies May's conditions. This suggests a conditional defense of plurality rule: If a society's balloting procedure collects only a single vote (...) from each voter, then plurality rule is the uniquely compelling electoral procedure. To illustrate the conditional nature of this claim, we also identify a richer informational environment in which approval voting, not plurality rule, is supported by a May-style argument. (shrink)
The Federalist, justifying the Electoral College to elect the president, claimed that a small group of more informed individuals would make a better decision than the general mass. But the Condorcet Jury Theorem tells us that the more independent, better-than-random voters there are, the more likely it will be that the majority among them will be correct. The question thus arises as to how much better, on average, members of the smaller group would have to be to compensate for the (...) epistemic costs of making decisions on the basis of that many fewer votes. This question is explored in the contexts of referendum democracy, delegate-style representative democracy, and trustee-style representative democracy. (shrink)
I argue for an epistemic conception of voting, a conception on which the purpose of the ballot is at least in some cases to identify which of several policy proposals will best promote the public good. To support this view I first briefly investigate several notions of the kind of public good that public policy should promote. Then I examine the probability logic of voting as embodied in two very robust versions of the Condorcet Jury Theorem and some related results. (...) These theorems show that if the number of voters or legislators is sufficiently large and the average of their individual propensities to select the better of two policy proposals is a little above random chance, and if each person votes his or her own best judgment (rather than in alliance with a block or faction), then the majority is extremely likely to select the better alternative. Here ‘better alternative’ means that policy or law that will best promote the public good. I also explicate a Convincing Majorities Theorem, which shows the extent to which the majority vote should provide evidence that the better policy has been selected. Finally, I show how to extend all of these results to judgments among multiple alternatives through the kind of sequential balloting typical of the legislative amendment process. (shrink)
Offered are two epistemic accounts of deliberative democracy which suggest the reasonable minority has epistemically sound reasons to willingly follow a reasonable majority position. One of these accounts suggests that the truth will be on the side of an overwhelming rational majority. This is because it is less likely that there is a widespread cognitive failure that “contaminates” the moral intuitions of rational majority than a rational minority. The second account suggests that where there is a rational disagreement, instead of (...) assuming: a) one side is right and the other wrong or b) that they are both failing to discover what justice dictates, or c) that there is no moral fact of the matter, it is sometimes plausible to conclude that both views are compatible with justice. While the competing views can’t both be simultaneously realized, it is not contradictory to assert they are both compatible with justice. (shrink)
Few have discussed Rawls's arguments for the value of democracy. This is because his arguments, as arguments that the principle of equal basic liberty should include democratic liberties, are incomplete. Rawls says little about the inclusion of political liberties of a democratic sort – such as the right to vote – among the basic liberties. And, at times, what he does say is unconvincing. My aim is to complete and, where they fail, to reconceive Rawls's arguments and to show that (...) a principle requiring equal political liberty and its fair value is an appropriate component of his theory of justice. (shrink)
Should voting be compulsory? This question has recently gained the attention of political scientists, politicians and philosophers, many of whom believe that countries, like Britain, which have never had compulsion, ought to adopt it. The arguments are a mixture of principle and political calculation, reflecting the idea that compulsory voting is morally right and that it is will prove beneficial. This article casts a sceptical eye on the claims, by emphasizing how complex political morality and strategy can be. Hence, I (...) show, while there are good reasons to worry about voter turnout in established democracies, and to worry about inequalities of turnout as well, the case for compulsory voting is unpersuasive. (shrink)
Political theorists have offered many accounts of collective decision-making under pluralism. I discuss a key dimension on which such accounts differ: the importance assigned not only to the choices made but also to the reasons underlying those choices. On that dimension, different accounts lie in between two extremes. The ‘minimal liberal account’ holds that collective decisions should be made only on practical actions or policies and that underlying reasons should be kept private. The ‘comprehensive deliberative account’ stresses the importance of (...) giving reasons for collective decisions, where such reasons should also be collectively decided. I compare these two accounts on the basis of a formal model developed in the growing literature on the ‘discursive dilemma’ and ‘judgment aggregation’ and address several questions: What is the trade-off between the (minimal liberal) demand for reaching agreement on outcomes and the (comprehensive deliberative) demand for reason-giving? How large should the ‘sphere of public reason’ be? When do the decision procedures suggested by the two accounts agree and when not? How good are these procedures at truthtracking on factual matters? What strategic incentives do they generate for decision-makers? My discussion identifies what is at stake in the choice between minimal liberal and comprehensive deliberative accounts of collective decisionmaking, and sheds light not only on these two ideal-typical accounts themselves, but also on many characteristics that intermediate accounts share with them. (shrink)
The idea of “promoting democracy” is one that goes in and out of favor. With the advent of the so-called “Arab Spring”, the idea of promoting democracy abroad has come up for discussion once again. Yet an important recent line of thinking about human rights, starting with John Rawls’s book The Law of Peoples, has held that there is no human right to democracy, and that nondemocratic states that respect human rights should be “beyond reproach” in the realm of international (...) relations. This is, for obvious reasons, a controversial view, especially given the powerful and important arguments purporting to show that democracies do significantly better than nondemocracies in promoting internal peace and equality, and in engaging in peaceful international cooperation. Both proponents and opponents of the Rawlsian view of human rights have argued that the view implies that democracies may not “promote democracy” in nondemocratic societies. But, given that all parties to this dispute agree that democracy is necessary for justice, and given the important instrumental goods provided by democracy, the Rawlsian view has seemed deeply implausible to many. -/- In this paper I blunt this challenge to the Rawlsian view by showing how, even if there is no human right to democracy, we may still rightfully promote democracy in a number of ways and cases. Showing this requires investigation of what it means to “promote democracy”, and a more careful inspection of when various methods of promoting democracy are appropriate than has been done by most political theorists working on human rights. When we look carefully, we can see that in some instances acceptable forms of promoting democracy are compatible with the Rawlsian view of human rights, and that this view is therefore not vulnerable to the “instrumentalist” challenge. We also see how, if political philosophy is to be useful, it must be less abstract and look closely at actual cases. -/- This paper posted by permission of the Board of Trustees of the Leland Stanford Junior University. For information visit the Stanford University website. (shrink)
Tenemos aquí un claro ejemplo de dos lecturas en las que se aquilata la pertenencia de la investigación feminista al lema que reza theoria cum praxi. Divisa esta que encierra una problemática que ha sido leída de muy diversos modos en la historia de la filosofía, y sobre cuya dilemática relación también en la historia del feminismo se han apuntado claves esenciales.
Does political decision-making require experts or can a democracy be trusted to make correct decisions? This question has a long-standing tradition in political philosophy, going back at least to Plato’s Republic. Critics of democracy tend to argue that democracy cannot be trusted in this way while advocates tend to argue that it can. Both camps agree that it is the epistemic quality of the outcomes of political decision-making processes that underpins the legitimacy of political institutions. In recent political philosophy, epistemic (...) democrats have embraced this instrumentalist way of thinking about democracy. In this chapter, I argue that the attempt to defend democracy on epistemic instrumentalist grounds is self-undermining. I also develop an alternative – procedural – epistemic defence of democracy. I show that there is a prima facie epistemic case for democracy when there is no procedure-independent epistemic authority on the issue to be decided. (shrink)
The focus of this entry is on four important problems or flaws in democratic politics, particularly democracy in the U.S. -/- David T. Risser, Millersville Universiity of Pennsylvania, Dept. of Government & Political Affairs -/- .
This paper tackles some issues arising from Plato's account of the democratic man in Rep. VIII. One problem is that Plato tends to analyse him in terms of the desires that he fulfils, yet sends out conflicting signals about exactly what kind of desires are at issue. Scholars are divided over whether all of the democrat's desires are appetites. There is, however, strong evidence against seeing him as exclusively appetitive: rather he is someone who satisfies desires from all three parts (...) of his soul, although his rational and spirited desires differ significantly from those of the philosopher or the timocrat. A second problem concerns the question why the democrat ranks so low in Plato's estimation, especially why he is placed beneath the oligarch. My explanation is that Plato presents him as a jumble of desires, someone in whom order and unity have all but disintegrated. In this way he represents a step beyond the merely bipolarised oligarch. The final section of the paper focuses on the democrat's rational part, and asks whether it plays any role in shaping his life as a whole. For the disunity criticism to hold, Plato ought to allow very little global reasoning: if there were a single deliberating reason imposing a life plan upon his life, the fragmentation of life and character discussed earlier would only be superficial. I argue that Plato attributes very little global reasoning to the democrat. Aside from the fact that the text fails to mention such reasoning taking place, Plato's views on the development of character and his use of the state-soul analogy show that the democrat's lifestyle is determined just by the strength of the desires that he happens to feel at any one time. (shrink)
Imperialism seems to be deeply antithetical to democracy. Yet, at least one form of imperialism – what I call “hands-off imperialism" – seems to be perfectly compatible with the kind of self-governance commonly thought to be the hallmark of democracy. The solution to this puzzle is to recognize that democracy involves more than self-governance. Rather, it involves what I call self-rule. Self-rule is an example of what Philip Pettit has called a modally demanding value. Modally demanding values are, roughly, values (...) the instantiation of which depends not only on what actually happens, but on what would happen in certain non-actual circumstances. Self-rule is the modally demanding counterpart of self-governance, since it requires, not merely that the members of a state actually govern themselves, but that they would continue to do so across a range of non-actual situations. Moreover, the value of self-rule (and hence democracy) is not reducible to the value of self-governance. Understanding the modally demanding character of democracy allows us to appreciate what is democratically objectionable about occupation by a foreign power, even if there is no prospect of the foreign power intervening in the governance of the occupied state by its members. (shrink)
In 'A Constitution of Many Minds' Cass Sunstein argues that the three major approaches to constitutional interpretation – Traditionalism, Populism and Cosmopolitanism – all rely on some variation of a ‘many-minds’ argument. Here we assess each of these claims through the lens of the Condorcet Jury Theorem. In regard to the first two approaches we explore the implications of sequential influence among courts (past and foreign, respectively). In regard to the Populist approach, we consider the influence of opinion leaders.