Today the question of the moral foundations of democracy is more important then ever. In this book the author helps to explain when and why democracy is important and also gives us guidance as to how democracies ought to be shaped.
The levelling down objection is the most serious objection to the principle of equality, but we think it can be conclusively defeated. It is serious because it pits the principle of equality squarely against the welfares of the persons whose welfares or resources are equalized. It suggests that there is something perverse about the principle of equality. In this paper, we argue that levelling down is not an implication of the principle of equality. To show this we offer a defence (...) of, and partial elaboration of, what we call a common good conception of the principle of equality, which principle favours states in which everyone is better off to those in which everyone is worse off. We contrast this with what we call a purely structural conception of the principle of equality. The common good conception of equality involves two basic components: (1) in each circumstance there exists an ideal egalitarian distribution, which distributes equally all the available good in the distribution with the highest average welfare and (2) in evaluating how just the world is, it will matter how far the actual distribution is from the ideal distribution. The ideal egalitarian distribution in the circumstance is Pareto optimal and the approximation rule implies that Pareto superior states are less unjust than Pareto inferior states. 1. (shrink)
The basic question I want to ask is: can the exercise of private property rights abridge fundamental norms of democratic decision-making? And, under what conditions can it do so? To the extent that we view democratic decision making as required by justice, the issue is whether there is a deep tension between certain ways of exercising the rights of private property and that part of social justice that is characterized by democracy. To the extent that this tension holds, I will (...) argue that commitment to democratic norms implies that private capitalist firms must cooperate with a democratic assembly and government in the pursuit of the aims of a democratic assembly even when this implies some diminution of the profits of the firms. The cooperation I have in mind goes beyond the norm of faithful compliance with the law. To be sure, there are limits to this requirement as we will see in the later part of the paper. To the extent that private capitalist firms fail to do this and partially undermine the pursuit of the aims of a democratic assembly, they act in a way that is incompatible with fundamental norms of democratic governance. (shrink)
I shall formulate and motivate a left-libertarian theory of justice. Like the more familiar rightlibertarianism, it holds that agents initially fully own themselves. Unlike right-libertarianism, it holds that natural resources belong to everyone in some egalitarian manner. Left-libertarianism is, I claim, a plausible version of liberal egalitarianism because it is suitably sensitive to considerations of liberty, security, and equality.
The incoherence argument does not work against the participationist defense of democracy. It remains to be seen whether the participationist argument is successful. In order to assess this argument we must determine the worth of the traits of character that are assumed to result from participation in democratic institutions and how their worth compares to that of other important aspects of political systems. Also, the factual claims asserted by the participationists must be assessed. It is these issues that must be (...) addressed by advocates and opponents of the participation argument. (shrink)