The Effects of Competence-based Suffrage Restrictions: Toward a Full Accounting

David Wiens
University of California, San Diego
Sean Ingham
University of California, San Diego
Democratic citizens often lack rudimentary knowledge about their political institutions, elected leaders, and the policies their leaders choose. Epistemic democrats contend democracies produce reasonable decisions despite the ignorance of the typical voter; against them, epistocrats claim that non-democratic regimes in which more knowledgeable citizens are put in charge would produce better decisions. We explain the shortcomings with the arguments on both sides. Epistocrats may be right that all else being equal, a more competent electorate would produce better decisions, and epistemic democrats may be right that all else being equal, a more diverse and inclusive electorate would produce better decisions. But all else is not equal, and neither camp provides arguments for believing that their favorite partial effect of restricting the franchise will prevail over countervailing effects. We explain why the total effect of such restrictions is theoretically indeterminate, and why more empirical evidence is needed.
Keywords epistemic democracy  epistocracy  universal suffrage  competence
Categories (categorize this paper)
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

Our Archive
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

The Right to a Competent Electorate.Jason Brennan - 2011 - Philosophical Quarterly 61 (245):700-724.
Plural Voting for the Twenty-First Century.Thomas Mulligan - 2018 - Philosophical Quarterly 68 (271):286-306.
From Privilege to Universal Right: On the Extension of American Suffrage.Ju-guo Zhang - 2010 - Nankai University (Philosophy and Social Sciences) 1:31-41.
Disagreement and Epistemic Arguments for Democracy.S. Ingham - 2013 - Politics, Philosophy and Economics 12 (2):136-155.
Against a Minimum Voting Age.Philip Cook - 2013 - Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy 16 (3):439-458.
On the Compatibility of Epistocracy and Public Reason.Thomas Mulligan - 2015 - Social Theory and Practice 41 (3):458-476.
The Enfranchisement Lottery.C. Lopez-Guerra - 2011 - Politics, Philosophy and Economics 10 (2):211-233.
The Enfranchisement Lottery.Claudio López-Guerra - 2011 - Politics, Philosophy and Economics 10 (2):1470594-10372206.
The Epistemic Circumstances of Democracy.Fabienne Peter - 2016 - In Miranda Fricker Michael Brady (ed.), The Epistemic Life of Groups. pp. 133 - 149.


Added to PP index

Total views
62 ( #110,971 of 2,313,478 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
62 ( #6,502 of 2,313,478 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Monthly downloads

My notes

Sign in to use this feature