Consensus and majoritarian democracies: Problems with under-informed single-level analyses

Human Affairs 31 (1):109-124 (2021)
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Abstract

I argue that when conceiving or assessing normative ideas about how we should organize society into the kind of ecosystem we desire, it is unwise to completely ignore empirical conditions. I also demonstrate that when evaluating empirical difficulties attending a social system, it is also unwise to do so in total oblivion to the normative idea or objective informing the establishment of such a system. Each of these assessments I call an under informed single-level analysis. By contrast I advocate a multi-level analysis (by which we evaluate both the normative and empirical dimensions of an idea or a social system) or, at the least, an informed single-level analysis (by which we evaluate either a normative idea or an empirical system with an implicit awareness of the content of the other level). I demonstrate that these models of analysis would never yield the same conclusions as an under informed single-level analysis. For my case studies I focus on the various models of analyses used in the debate about liberal majoritarian and consensus/communal democracies.

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