Collected here in a single volume for the first time, On Liberty, Utilitarianism, Considerations on RepresentativeGovernment, and The Subjection of Women show Mill applying his liberal utilitarian philosophy to a range of issues that remain vital today - issues of the nature of ethics, the scope and limits of individual liberty, the merits of and costs of democratic government, and the place of women in society. In his Introduction John Gray describes these essays as applications of (...) Mill's doctrine of the Art of Life, as set out in A System of Logic. Using the resources of recent revisionist scholarship, he shows Mill's work to be far richer and subtler than traditional interpretations allow. (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)
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 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)
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 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)
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 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)
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)
It is an odd thing that after two and a half centuries' experience of representativegovernment—if we take the 1688 Revolution as ourstarting point—we have still no very certain or coherent theory of what it represents. The easy-going eighteenth-century idea that their own sense of political responsibility and the ties of political sympathy uniting them to the people at large enabled representatives chosen from among the “natural” leaders of the nation adequately to fulfil their representative role, despite (...) the meagre measure of choice exercised in their denomination; and the rather later notion that the function of a representative system was to reflect the class structure and dominant interests of the nation, have both failed to survive criticism at the hustings, and the spread of political consciousness associated with the rise of democracy. Modern ideas identify representativegovernment with self-government, and insist on applying to it Colonel Rainboro's dictum that “the poorest he that is in England hath a life to live, as the richest he.” On the subject of what representativegovernment represents there may nowadays be distinguished two views; what may be called the popular, or hustings view, and the academic theory, which, while different in form, preserves the same general character as the hustings view. The hustings view is unqualified majoritarianism. Representativegovernment is government by the will of the majority. Certain ideas underlying, or associated with this view may profitably be distinguished. The most important is that of individual right. Majoritarianism is no respecter of tradition, or birth, or inborn talents, or acquired experience; it is no respecter of persons at all, only a counter of them. In its view there is no species of authority that gives one person or class of persons the right to push others around; everyone, indeed, has a presumptive right not to be pushed around. (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.
Democratic theorists are usually dismissive about the idea that citizens act “through” their representatives and often hold persons to exercise true political agency only at intervals in elections. Yet, if we want to understand representativegovernment as a proper form of democracy and not just a periodical selection of elites, continuous popular agency must be a feature of representation. This article explores the Kantian attempt to justify that people can act “through” representatives. I call this the “exercise (...) view” of representation and defend its superiority to the “opportunity view,” which I attribute to Locke. It is superior because it has a robust conception of rationality and collective action, allowing us to understand how representation can mediate public reason. (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)
This work studies the issue of political representation from the perspective of a specific legal culture, the exercise of political rights in the context of the occidental democratic system, a concept that has undergone a profound evolution to the present day. The essential aspects for an analysis of this progression are voting, decision making, and the relationship between representatives and their constituents. Overall, the phenomena making up the crisis of representation have been explained as a result of changes (...) that have affected the operation and structure of modern states constituted as representative democracies. The idea is that a well-functioning representative system comes primarily from the form of government and electoral system in which it develops. (shrink)