Mutual Service as the Relational Value of Democracy

Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 25 (4):651-665 (2022)
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In recent years the view that the non-instrumental value of democracy is a relational value, particularly relational equality, gained prominence. In this paper I challenge this relational egalitarian version of non-instrumentalism about democracy’s value by arguing that it is unable to establish a strong enough commitment to democracy. I offer an alternative view according to which democracy is non-instrumentally valuable for it establishes relationships of mutual service among citizens by enlisting them in the collective project of ruling the polity justly together which is a self-standing source of value for them. Relating in the mode of mutual service is not a species of relating as equals; it is a distinct relational value. Democracy is uniquely suited to realize this relational value, for it renders citizens co-authors of the fundamental rules of the system of social cooperation under which they live, and only as co-authors of these rules are they able to mutually serve each other in a way that is appropriate within their relationship as citizens of the same polity. For this reason, a strong commitment to democracy can be based on the relational value of mutual service, which therefore better fits the theoretical purposes of non-instrumentalism than relational equality.



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Zsolt Kapelner
University of Oslo

Citations of this work

Why Refugees Should Be Enfranchised.Zsolt Kapelner - 2024 - Journal of Applied Philosophy 41 (1):106-121.
Democratic disenfranchisement: a relational account.Alexandru Volacu - forthcoming - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy.
What does it mean to have an equal say?Zsolt Kapelner - forthcoming - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice:1-15.

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References found in this work

The metaphysics of morals.Immanuel Kant - 1797/1996 - New York: Cambridge University Press. Edited by Mary J. Gregor.
Against Democracy: New Preface.Jason Brennan - 2016 - Princeton: Princeton University Press.
What is the point of equality.Elizabeth Anderson - 1999 - Ethics 109 (2):287-337.
The Morality of Freedom.Joseph Raz - 1986 - Philosophy 63 (243):119-122.

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