Thomas Donahue
Haverford College
This paper outlines and defends a processual theory of peoplehood. On our theory, a people is, roughly speaking, composed of two things. First, an unfolding series of events coordinated by the practices of constituting, governing, or changing a polity's authoritative institutions. Second, individual persons whose lives and interests are intensely affected by these events and institutions. We call this theory deep processualism. We outline the theory by showing how it would answer five questions: the questions of constituents, individuation, origination, termination, and membership: What are the chief constituents of peoples? What individuates peoples? Under what conditions do peoples originate? Under what conditions do peoples cease to be? Under what conditions is a person a member of the people? We also consider alternative theories of the nature of peoples, theories due to Juergen Habermas, Bruce Ackerman, Philip Pettit, and James Fishkin. We defend our theory on the ground that it is not embarrassed by the difficulties that we pin on these alternative theories.
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