The value theory of democracy

Politics, Philosophy and Economics 5 (3):259-278 (2006)
Liberal political theorists often argue that justice requires limits on policy outcomes, limits delineated by substantive rights. Distinct from this project is a body of literature dedicated to elaborating on the meaning of democracy in procedural terms. In this article, I offer an alternative to the traditional divide between procedural theories of democracy and substantive theories of justice; I call this the ‘value theory of democracy’. I argue that the democratic ideal is fundamentally about a core set of values (political autonomy, equality of interests, and reciprocity) with both procedural and substantive implications. Further, I contend that limits on policy outcomes can be newly understood as part of the democratic ideal. Key Words: democracy • rights • substantive • procedural • Habermas.
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