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)
The three major essays collected in this volume were written in the latter half of Mill's life (1806-1873) and were quickly accepted into the canon of European political and social thought. Today, when liberty and representativegovernment collide with other principles and when women still experience prejudice, Mill's essays reveal his sense of history, intelligence, and ardent concern for human liberty, and continue to shed light on politics and contemporary society.
This article discusses the work of Cornelius Castoriadis, an important political thinker and theorist of democracy. Castoriadis developed not one but two theories of democracy based on two distinct understandings of autonomy. The first is compatible with the key features of representativegovernment; the second is not. Unfortunately, Castoriadis models his interpretation of the idea of popular sovereignty on the second view, thereby concluding, like Rousseau before him, that it is incompatible with representativegovernment. This article (...) discusses both approaches and presents a reinterpretation of political representation and of the idea of popular sovereignty in order to show how they can be made compatible. I argue that the discourse of popular sovereignty and the modern principles of representativegovernment entail one another. (shrink)
The basic theoretical premise of this article is that representation does not necessarily imply a break with democratic principles. Its goal is to challenge the traditional liberal-elitist approach to representativegovernment according to which this system is a mixed regime that is not identifiable with democracy since its main institution, election, is a mechanism that is inherently aristocratic, although it can be implemented in a democratic way. I question this powerful argument by questioning its main assumption: the (...) idea that representativegovernment, since its 18th-century inception, has had a linear and univocal history which was essentially undemocratic.I go back to the age of the French Revolution and analyse Condorcet’s plan of constitution in order to prove my case. Condorcet devised institutional mechanisms and procedures that were able to make representativegovernment democratic by overcoming the polarization between representation and participation and making them related forms of political action constituting the continuum of decision-making and opinion formation in modern democratic society. (shrink)
The political institutions under which we live today evolved from a revolutionary idea that shook the world in the second part of the eighteenth century: that a people should govern itself. Yet if we judge contemporary democracies by the ideals of self-government, equality, and liberty, we find that democracy is not what it was dreamt to be. This book addresses central issues in democratic theory by analyzing the sources of widespread dissatisfaction with democracies around the world. With attention throughout (...) to historical and cross-national variations, the focus is on the generic limits of democracy in promoting equality, effective participation, control of governments by citizens, and liberty. The conclusion is that although some of this dissatisfaction has good reasons, some is based on an erroneous understanding of how democracy functions. Hence, although the analysis identifies the limits of democracy, it also points to directions for feasible reforms. (shrink)
This updated edition of a well-established anthology of social and political philosophy combines extensive selections from classical works with significant recent contributions to the field, many of which are not easily available. Its central focus is on the liberal currents in modern Western political thought--variants of classical liberalism, modern liberalism, and libertarianism--with specific focus on differing conceptions of political obligation, freedom, distributive justice, and representative democracy. The text is organized into four thematic sections: Political Obligation and Consent, Freedom and (...) Coercion, Justice and Equality, and Democracy and Representation, making it easily accessible to students. Each chapter features selections from classical thinkers alongside writings by influential contemporary philosophers and political theorists, thus tracing the historical development and transformation of Western political thought on key issues in the field. Among the classical authors represented in this collection are Plato, Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, and Mill. Contemporary contributors include John Rawls, Isaiah Berlin, Thomas Scanlon, Robert Nozick, Thomas Nagel, Ronald Dworkin, and Hanna Pitkin. Each section is preceded by an introductory overview and followed by a helpful, current bibliography providing guides to further reading. (shrink)
This is the first English translation of the first work of Otto von Gierke, arguably the greatest historian of ideas of the nineteenth century. Community in Historical Perspective includes much of the first volume of Das Deutsche Genossenschaftsrecht, originally published in 1868, and the texts translated here have become essential reading for anyone interested not only in the history of ideas and alternatives to conventional socialism and liberalism, but also, as recent experience has shown, contemporary European affairs. Von Gierke's represented (...) an unparalleled attempt to justify a political programme of structural pluralism, and to interpret the entire course of European history from the Dark Ages onwards as a progressive interaction between 'fellowship' (or 'comradeship') and 'lordship' (or 'sovereignty'). This interaction was to generate a polity of autonomous associations within a constitutional state based upon consent and federal unity, and von Gierke here laid the basis for a distinctively Germanic programme of federalism and quasi-pluralism, with a strongly nationalist emphasis upon the unique capacity of Germans, despite long periods of absolute rule, for corporate self-management. (shrink)
The banner of deliberative democracy is attracting increasing numbers of supporters, in both the world's older and newer democracies. This effort to renew democratic politics is widely seen as a reaction to the dominance of liberal constitutionalism. But many questions surround this new project. What does deliberative democracy stand for? What difference would deliberative practices make in the real world of political conflict and public policy design? What is the relationship between deliberative politics and liberal constitutional arrangements? The 1996 publication (...) of Amy Gutmann and Dennis F. Thompsons Democracy and Disagreement was a signal contribution to the ongoing debate over the role of moral deliberation in democratic politics. In Deliberative Politics an all-star cast of political, legal, and moral commentators seek to criticize, extend, or provide alternatives to Gutmann and Thompson's hopeful model of democratic deliberation. The essays discuss the value and limits of moral deliberation in politics, and take up practical policy issues such as abortion, affirmative action, and health care reform. Among the impressive roster of contributors are Norman Daniels, Stanley Fish, William A. Galston, Jane Mansbridge, Cass R. Sunstein, Michael Walzer, and Iris Marion Young, and the editor of the volume, Stephen Macedo. The book concludes with a thoughtful response from Gutmann and Thompson to their esteemed critics. This fine collection is essential reading for anyone who takes seriously the call for a more deliberative politics. (shrink)
"Thirty-five years ago few could have predicted that The New Science of Politics would be a best-seller by political theory standards. Compressed within the Draconian economy of the six Walgreen lectures is a complete theory of man, society, and history, presented at the most profound and intellectual level. . . . Voegelin's [work] stands out in bold relief from much of what has passed under the name of political science in recent decades. . . . The New Science is aptly (...) titled, for Voegelin makes clear at the outset that a 'return to the specific content' of premodern political theory is out of the question. . . . The subtitle of the book, An Introduction, clearly indicates that The New Science of Politics is an invitation to join the search for the recovery of our full humanity."--From the new Foreword by Dante Germino "This book must be considered one of the most enlightening essays on the character of European politics that has appeared in half a century. . . . This is a book powerful and vivid enough to make agreement or disagreement with even its main thesis relatively unimportant."-- Times Literary Supplement "Voegelin . . . is one of the most distinguished interpreters to Americans of the non-liberal streams of European thought. . . . He brings a remarkable breadth of knowledge, and a historical imagination that ranges frequently into brilliant insights and generalizations."--Francis G. Wilson, American Political Science Review "This book is beautifully constructed . . . his erudition constantly brings a startling illumination."--Martin Wright, International Affairs "A ledestar to thinking men who seek a restoration of political science on the classic and Christian basis . . . a significant accomplishment in the retheorization of our age."--Anthony Harrigan, Christian Century. (shrink)
Representative democracy is often assessed from the standpoint of direct democracy. Recently, however, many theorists have come to argue that representation forms a democratic model in its own right. The most powerful claim in this direction is to be found within two quite different strands of thinking: the aesthetic theory of Frank Ankersmit and the savage theory of Claude Lefort. In this article, I show that while Ankersmit and Lefort converge in their critique of direct rule, they provide (...) us with two distinct models of democracy. Aesthetic democracy, I argue, in the end falls short as a democratic recuperation of representation. It reduces representation to delegation. Savage democracy proves more fruitful in this respect. It offers a representative view of politics without committing itself to the premises associated with political delegation. (shrink)
The defects of any form of government may be either negative or positive. It is negatively defective if it does not concentrate in the hands of the authorities power sufficient to fulfil the necessary offices of a government; or if it does not sufficiently develop by exercise the active capacities and social feelings of the individual citizens. On neither of these points is it necessary that much should be said at this stage of our inquiry.
Abstract In nineteenth?century Europe, democracy was not embraced with the same enthusiasm it now enjoys. Conservative critics questioned central democratic normative principles, while liberals tried to correct the limitations of actual democratic practice. While accepting the inevitability of democracy, nineteenth?century liberals often resisted the idea that universal suffrage guaranteed the wisdom of the people's choices. Nothing better illustrates this difficult apprenticeship of democracy than the writings of François Guizot, whose political thought focuses on the relationship between liberalism and democracy.
Although women have consistently outvoted men in elections in Japan since the 1970s, the country has a relatively poor record in terms of women being elected to representative bodies. In recent years, there have been increases, particularly in the number of women in the House of Representatives and the House of Councillors, but at the local level the rate of change has been slower.
This survey of the political history of nonwestern countries has shown that Russia, Japan, and China never developed the levels of constitutional government found in late medieval Europe. Three of the four social origins of constitutionalism in the West, rough balance between crown and noble, contractual-feudal military organization, and lordpeasant dynamics have been largely absent from these countries. Nor has any other substantial source (such as religion or economic organization) been uncovered that compensated for these absences or which otherwise (...) fostered constitutionalism. Consequently, the major institutes of medieval constitutionalism, rural local government, autonomous towns, estates, and the rule of law, have also been largely absent. Village government, on the other hand, which was fostered in the West by the continuance of Germanic peasant organization and by the commune movement of the medieval period, has been found to be quite ubiquitous outside Europe. Village government existed — and in vital forms — in all three nonwestern regions, but always dwarfed by the power of authoritarian organs of the surrounding state structures. Thus, village government in and of itself lacked constitutional significance unless it was able to fuse with other, stronger constitutional institutions as it did in the West.To avoid the charge that the present study is only another sentimentalization of remote, mythic past, the modern significance of medieval constitutionalism for liberal democracy must be established. Each component carried forth — and with essential continuity — one or more of the pivotal aspects of modern representativegovernment, at least in those countries in which medieval constitutionalism was not destroyed by military-bureaucratic absolutism or by a labor-repressive commercialization of agriculture. Among those aspects of liberal democracy are citizenship rights, representative institutions, checks and balances on central authority, and the rule of law.Rural local government contained representativegovernment, from tribal popular assemblies to gentry cliques, which persisted in one form or another. Citizenship found its expression in participatory government and in the chartered liberties of village communes and frontier settlements. Local government in itself could not act as a check on central power; it could, however, provide a scattered but collectively almost insurmountable obstacle to state penetration of the localities. Towns provided various levels of citizenship and representation, from narrow oligarchy to representation of the guilds and plebeian classes. The progressiveness of “negative freedom” (freedom from feudal authority) enjoyed by lower classes is easily missed by focusing too narrowly on the oligarchic nature of many municipalities. To be rid of seigneurial controls and to have access to a more rational judiciary were benefits that were not lost on the urban masses streaming in from the countryside. Royal dependence on revenue from the towns served as a de facto check on central power inasmuch as infringing the rights of one endangered and unified the others.The representative nature of the estates as well as their serving as checks and balances on the monarchy are very straightforward. The estates became the central arena of politics in successive centuries, and the struggle for citizenship rights was fought here in two senses. A main battle of liberalization was fought over the franchise, the right to vote and send representatives to the national assembly. Second, politics within the representative assembly often centered on extending freedoms and liberties by acts of legislation. The rule of law was a crown ornamenting and protecting medieval constitutionalism as well as liberal democracy. Law, that “brooding omnipresence in the sky” as Oliver Wendell Hohnes called it, served to guarantee citizenship rights, ensure proper consultation with the estates, and provide a normative and procedural grid in which the monarchal state had to act.It is important to note once more that medieval constitutionalism was not almost democracy, nor was it sufficient cause of liberal democracy. It did, however, provide many of the critical components including representation, citizenship, checks and balances, and the rule of law, that were absent in other parts of the world. Nor was constitutional government always accompanied by trust, cooperation, and acceptance of the political status quo. Tension, conflict, and often open hostility were more the norm as monarchs endeavored to rid themselves of meddlesome pests. But their animosities were held in check by constitutional protections and the strength of the opposition. Monarchs could only bide their time, abide by the governing rules and practices, and await the opportunity to shed what they viewed as the fetters of antiquated politics.The constitutional achievement, then, was a modest and frail one that had inherent instabilities owing to monarchal/state ambitions. It would be undermined in many countries where the commercialization of agriculture and the exigencies of modern warfare combined to bring about authoritarian relations and institutions. Elsewhere, where the impact of war and commercialization were less pronounced, medieval constitutionalism would serve as a basis for liberal democracy. (shrink)
Jeremy Waldron objects to judicial review of legislation on the ground that it effectively accords the views of a few judges ‘superior voting weight’ to those of ordinary citizens. This objection overlooks that representativegovernment does the same. This article explores the concept of political representation and argues that delegates may be institutionally bound to heed the convictions of their constituents, but they are not their proxies. Rather, they are best viewed as their trustees. They ought to (...) decide according to what they think is in their constituents’ interest. In this sense, a strong element of independent judgment is involved in their institutional role. So, if we have no problem with assigning their views superior voting weight, it should not be thought particularly objectionable to give judges the same power. What is more, once we acknowledge the independence they enjoy, the question arises whether and by what institutional means we ought to constrain and check their power. The judiciary is well suited effectively to carry out this supervisory function, because it is immune from political pressure by the legislature that would reduce it to its instrument. Hence, in some cases the institution of judicial review is morally justified. (shrink)
Government, the systematic exercise of command by some over others backed by the allegedly legitimate use of violence, requires justification. All government is predicated upon a distinction between rulers and ruled. Who should occupy the position of ruler and who the position of the ruled is a perennial problem. In thecontemporary world, representative democracy is the only plausible contender for the role of justified government. The key to the justification and popularacceptance of democracy as a (or (...) the) legitimate form of government is the idea of representation, the idea being that in a representative democracy, the people,in some way, rule themselves and thus bridge the gap between the ruler and ruled. However, if a satisfactory account of representation is not forthcoming, thejustificatory status of representative democracy becomes problematic. (shrink)
Since representation and democracy were reconciled and combined, there has been constant tension and debate over whether representation enables, limits or prevents democracy. If one leaves aside questions over principles and turns to history, the democratic credentials of representation immediately become much clearer. Until democracy was reformulated to mean a representative system of government, it was dismissed as an antiquarian form of rule, inappropriate, if not impossible, for modern states. This article seeks to demonstrate the (...) `democratic-ness' of representation through historical argument. This focus leads to the revisions and challenges to `democracy' that occurred during the French Revolution, where crucial developments can be seen in the bringing together of the two previously antithetical concepts of democracy and representation. It is argued that this is when the conceptual and theoretical framework for modern democracy starts to be built in earnest. This is shown through a close reading of two key revisions in how democracy is understood in relation to representative rule, provided by a pair of political actors at the very heart of the Revolution: Thomas Paine and Maximilen Robespierre. What makes these two protagonists so important is that they offer bold and particularly modern revaluations of democracy, which simultaneously challenge both the `evaluative' and the `descriptive' sides of the concept. In so doing, Paine and Robespierre conceive of democracy as including representation and, at the same time, paint democracy as something positive and valuable. The reflections and innovations of democracy found in these two central and polarizing figures are exemplary in the unique combination of reconfiguring of democracy and representation — a pairing that may now seem very normal, but in the 18th century was nothing short of oxymoronic. (shrink)
Traditionally, debates over the issue of representation in liberalism and in socialism focused on such questions as who or whose interests should be represented in order to attest to the legitimacy of representation. In this article, a different and more fundamental approach is achieved by asking how the representation is accomplished. At this methodological point, liberalism and socialism diverge in their understanding of representativegovernment: Each follows its own philosophical paradigm(s) that underly and justify its (...) position. Differences between liberal and socialist understandings of representation are analytically compared in three pairs of categories: (a) micro versus macro, (b) individual versus class, and (c) the formalistic versus the substantive. The most crucial differences between the social systems are found in the last pair of categories-the formalistic versus the substantive approach to representationbecause different understandings of central concepts such as democracy, freedom, and equality stem from these two frameworks. (shrink)
The recent discussion on scientific representation has focused on models and their relationship to the real world. It has been assumed that models give us knowledge because they represent their supposed real target systems. However, here agreement among philosophers of science has tended to end as they have presented widely different views on how representation should be understood. I will argue that the traditional representational approach is too limiting as regards the epistemic value of modelling given the focus (...) on the relationship between a single model and its supposed target system, and the neglect of the actual representational means with which scientists construct models. I therefore suggest an alternative account of models as epistemic tools. This amounts to regarding them as concrete artefacts that are built by specific representational means and are constrained by their design in such a way that they facilitate the study of certain scientific questions, and learning from them by means of construction and manipulation. (shrink)
Towards the end of her seminal work on the notion of representation Hanna Pitkin makes the following observation:At the end of the Second World War and during the Nuremberg trials there was much speculation about the war guilt of the German people. [...] Many people might argue the responsibility of the German people even though a Nazi government was not representative. We might agree, however, that in the case of a representativegovernment the responsibility would (...) be more clear-cut.2As Pitkin suggests in this quotation, there is a common underlying assumption, both in academic writings and in popular perceptions of democracy, that a people living under a democratic government is ultimately responsible for that .. (shrink)
Although the idea of the public interest features prominently in many accounts of deliberative democracy, the relationship between deliberative democracy and the public interest is rarely spelt out with any degree of precision. In this article, I identify and defend one particular way of framing this relationship. I begin by arguing that people can deliberate about the public interest only if the public interest is, in principle, identifiable independently of their deliberations. Of course, some pluralists claim that the public interest (...) is an implausible idea, which casts doubt on the idea that there might be something for people to deliberate about. Yet while, following Brian Barry, we can get around this problem by defining the public interest as an interest in which everyone shares qua member of the public, what still needs to be explained is why people should be prepared to privilege this particular capacity. I argue that the account of political equality with which deliberative democracy is bound up offers a compelling explanation of this sort, even if it also gives rise to some difficult questions of feasibility. I conclude by considering the charge that any political scheme that framed the relationship between deliberative democracy and the public interest in this way would be undesirable. (shrink)
Abstract: The emergence of cross-border communities and transnational associations requires new ways of thinking about the norms involved in democracy in a globalized world. Given the significance of human rights fulfillment, including social and economic rights, I argue here for giving weight to the claims of political communities while also recognizing the need for input by distant others into the decisions of global governance institutions that affect them. I develop two criteria for addressing the scope of democratization in transnational contexts— (...) common activities and impact on basic human rights —and argue for their compatibility. I then consider some practical implications for institutional transformation and design, including new forms of transnational representation. (shrink)
Are we to get rid with representation after all? Since World War II, political philosophy seems to have devoted itself to either the intellectual sabotage of representation, or its defence against all evidence. Nobody seems to have thought that the problem with political representation might be the fact that the way it was thought was by no means correct. Considered as a fundamental principle of Western democracies, it might be at the very level of what a principle (...) implies that representation must be reloaded. For instance, by admitting that as a principle representation is not something that precedes what for which it provides ground (the government, the State, etc.)—but something that follows, that constitutes the final product of representation itself. (shrink)