I shall formulate and motivate a left-libertarian theory of justice. Like the more familiar rightlibertarianism, it holds that agents initially fully own themselves. Unlike right-libertarianism, it holds that natural resources belong to everyone in some egalitarian manner. Left-libertarianism is, I claim, a plausible version of liberal egalitarianism because it is suitably sensitive to considerations of liberty, security, and equality.
Society is organized by terms of association by which all are bound. The problem is to determine who has the right to define these terms of association. Democrats state that only the people have a right to rule over the society. And they argue that citizens ought to be equals in important respects in making these decisions. What is the basis of these views? We have seen that liberty accounts of democracy fail to provide a thorough understanding of the foundations (...) of democratic decisionmaking. In large part this failure is due to the dependence of these conceptions on consensus within the society. They are unable to account for the basic democratic principle that when there are disagreements over what the terms of association are to be, that view that secures support from a majority of the citizens ought to be chosen. This is the problem of incompatibility. These theories also fail to account for the interests persons have in democratic decisionmaking that explain why a person ought to be allotted equal shares in political rule. This is the problem of trade-offs. (shrink)
What is the ethical basis of democracy? And what reasons do we have to go along with democratic decisions even when we disagree with them? And when do we have reason to say that we may justly ignore democratic decisions? These questions must be answered if we are to have answers to some of the most important questions facing our global community, which include whether there is a human right to democracy and whether we must attempt to spread democracy throughout (...) the globe. -/- This book provides a philosophical account of the moral foundations of democracy and of liberalism. It shows how democracy and basic liberal rights are grounded in the principle of public equality, which tells us that in the establishment of law and policy we must treat persons as equals in ways they can see are treating them as equals. The principle of public equality is shown to be the fundamental principle of social justice. This account enables us to understand the nature and roles of adversarial politics and public deliberation in political life. It gives an account of the grounds of the authority of democracy. It also shows when the authority of democracy runs out. The author shows how the violations of democratic and liberal rights are beyond the legitimate authority of democracy, how the creation of persistent minorities in a democratic society, and the failure to ensure a basic minimum for all persons weaken the legitimate authority of democracy. (shrink)
The levelling down objection is the most serious objection to the principle of equality, but we think it can be conclusively defeated. It is serious because it pits the principle of equality squarely against the welfares of the persons whose welfares or resources are equalized. It suggests that there is something perverse about the principle of equality. In this paper, we argue that levelling down is not an implication of the principle of equality. To show this we offer a defence (...) of, and partial elaboration of, what we call a common good conception of the principle of equality, which principle favours states in which everyone is better off to those in which everyone is worse off. We contrast this with what we call a purely structural conception of the principle of equality. The common good conception of equality involves two basic components: (1) in each circumstance there exists an ideal egalitarian distribution, which distributes equally all the available good in the distribution with the highest average welfare and (2) in evaluating how just the world is, it will matter how far the actual distribution is from the ideal distribution. The ideal egalitarian distribution in the circumstance is Pareto optimal and the approximation rule implies that Pareto superior states are less unjust than Pareto inferior states. 1. (shrink)
This volume collects some of the leading essays in contemporary democratic theory published in the past thirty years. The anthology presents the work of a select group of contributors (including Peter Singer, Joshua Cohen, Ronald Dworkin, Richard Arneson, and others) and covers many foundational approaches defended by scholars from a range of different disciplines. The chapters address many issues that are central to philosophical reflections on democracy, such as questions pertaining to deliberative and economic approaches, as well as to such (...) topics as intrinsic fairness, the role of equality in relation to minority groups, and the limits of democracy. Covering representative work in economics, political science, legal theory, and philosophy, this comprehensive volume is suited to courses in political theory and political philosophy. (shrink)