David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy 1 (4):93-112 (1998)
Power consists in the capacity of A to command B, even against B's wishes, whether directly or indirectly. Questions to do with who possesses it and in what degree are obscured by inflationary shifts of definition (as where power encompasses action as such, or right action, or co?operation). These misjudged moves are generally marked by the assumption that democracy displaces power. But if democracy ultimately persists as a voting procedure, its object is to create power?holders. Democracy may endorse three electoral principles: (a) majority rule, or (b) enhanced majority rule, or (c) unanimity. Its commonest electoral device is (a), but its strongest moral defence for (a) implicitly is (c), which legitimates forms of (d) veto and forms of minority rule. If (d) is fair, this need not follow from (a). Nor is (a) right in virtue of superior power. Democracy is commonly a combination of (a) plus (e) defence of individual and corporate rights. But this combination, while apt and convenient, is not incontestably coherent. Despite growing support for deliberation over election, if democracy must be impelled by (a), thus far does it sustain, not topple, power. If power persists more stably under democracies than elsewhere, sustained caution in regard to its supposed ?circularization? is fully warranted
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