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.
There is no problem more crucial to contemporary political thought than the status of democracy, its role, and its problems in the contemporary world. In this survey of democratic theory, Thomas Christiano introduces the reader to the principles underlying democracy and to the problems involved in applying these principles to real life situations.B.
Algorithmic communications pose several challenges to democracy. The three phenomena of filtering, hypernudging, and microtargeting can have the effect of polarizing an electorate and thus undermine the deliberative potential of a democratic society. Algorithms can spread fake news throughout the society, undermining the epistemic potential that broad participation in democracy is meant to offer. They can pose a threat to political equality in that some people may have the means to make use of algorithmic communications and the sophistication to be (...) immune from attempts at manipulation, while other people are vulnerable to manipulation by those who use these means. My concern here is with the danger that algorithmic communications can pose to political equality, which arises because most citizens must make decisions about what and who to support in democratic politics with only a sparse budget of time, money, and energy. Algorithmic communications such as hypernudging and microtargeting can be a threat to democratic participation when persons are operating in environments that do not conduce to political sophistication. This constitutes a deepening of political inequality. The political sophistication necessary to counter this vulnerability is rooted for many in economic life and it can and ought to be enhanced by changing the terms of economic life. (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)
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)
I develop a conception of voluntary exchange and its value that helps us understand the fundamental source of difficulty with voluntary exchange. We can make a great deal of progress in understanding the promise and the perils of voluntary exchange by elaborating an analogy between voluntary exchange and democracy. To be sure, this is a hazardous activity since there are many differences between these areas. But a careful effort here will illuminate the domain of voluntary exchange in both normative and (...) descriptive dimensions. I argue that there is a fundamental tension between the normative principle that applies to voluntary exchange and the basic mechanism by which voluntary exchange operates. The fundamental normative principle, I will argue, is the principle that power over the making of an agreement with another ought to be proportioned among the persons to the interests each person has at stake in the making of the agreement. The fundamental mechanism of voluntary exchange, on the other hand, is that power is inversely proportioned to the stakes someone has in making the agreement. The more interests I have at stake in making an agreement, the more say over the content of the agreement I should have, and, yet, the more my interests hang on an agreement, the less bargaining power I have and so the less say I have in the making of the agreement. Hence, the inherent tendency of voluntary exchange is to work against the realization of the fundamental normative principle that regulates voluntary exchange. Hence, we have a deep and pervasive opposition between fact and norm in the very nature of voluntary exchange. All is not entirely hopeless, however, since there is a unique point where this opposition does not appear and that is in equality in the background conditions of exchange. (shrink)
This collection of 24 essays, written by eminent philosophers and political theorists, brings together fresh debates on some of the most fundamental questions in contemporary political philosophy, including human rights, equality, constitutionalism, the value of democracy, identity and political neutrality. Presents fresh debates on six of the fundamental questions in contemporary political philosophy Each question is treated by a pair of opposing essays written by eminent scholars Lively debate format sharply defines the issues, invites the reader to participate in the (...) exchange of arguments and paves the way for further discussion Will serve as an accessible introduction to the major topics in political philosophy, whilst also capturing the imagination of professional philosophers Offers the unique opportunity to observe leading philosophers engaging in head-to-head debate. (shrink)
ABSTRACTIlya Somin's case for smaller government and “foot voting” rests on at least two questionable assumptions. The first is that voter ignorance is based on rational calculation. This assumption requires arbitrary stipulations about the degree of voter altruism and the low values voters assign to the victory of their candidates. The second is that voter ignorance betokens bad public policy. But there is plenty of evidence to the contrary. How can this be the case? One explanation is that individually ignorant (...) voters are small pieces of a large system that divides intellectual labor through discussions among elites, opinion leaders, and ordinary citizens. This system may entitle voters to trust in the opinions of others, sparing them the need to be well informed. (shrink)
Democratic theorists stress the importance of free and equal discussion and debate in a well-functioning democratic process. In this process, citizens attempt to persuade each other to support legislation by appealing to considerations of justice, liberty or the common good and are open to changing their minds when hearing the arguments of others. They are concerned to ground policy and legislation on the most defensible considerations of morality and the best empirical evidence. To be sure, majority rule remains important in (...) democratic decision making because of the persistence of disagreement. But many have argued that debates over legislation that appeal to moral considerations ought to be given a much larger place in our understanding of the ideals of democracy than theorists have given them in the past. This emphasis on the importance of moral debate and discussion in democracy is characteristic of what I call the wide view of deliberative democracy. (shrink)
Waldron argues that recent treatments of justice have neglected reasonable disagreement about justice itself. So Waldron offers a procedural account of democratic legitimacy, in which contending views of justice can be brought together to arrive at a decision without deciding which one is correct. However, if there is reasonable disagreement about everything, then this includes his preferred account of legitimacy. On the other hand, it is not clear that Waldron is right to count so much disagreement as reasonable. But then (...) Waldron has not undermined the view he opposes in which some prevailing disagreement about justice is held to be unreasonable. (shrink)
Russell Hardin produced a body of work of great breadth and richness on essential subjects of the social sciences and political and moral philosophy: collective action, trust, utilitarian ethics, groups and conflict, institutions, and knowledge. The volume of output, the engagement with cross-cutting fields of scholarship and myriad subjects, and his at-times conversational mode of analysis make a succinct encapsulation difficult. In this introduction, we give a brief account of three main areas of Hardin’s work: his distinctive take on the (...) moral and political philosophy of utilitarianism, his accounts of collective action and the nature of social life, and his account of the fundamental idea of trust and social capital. (shrink)
Gerald Gaus has written a stimulating and thoroughly argued book. His main aim is to show that the kind of liberalism that is underwritten by the ideal of public reasoning and justification is compatible with the extensive facts of disagreement that we see in contemporary societies regarding justice and politics. Gaus argues that the liberalisms of Rawls and Larmore suffer from the fact that they rely on something quite close to actual consensus on political principles in society. They either end (...) up publicly justifying nothing at all or they end up justifying illiberal conclusions. This is a common complaint and the attempt to show that public justification liberalism can be given an account that avoids these problems is a worthy one. (shrink)
This volume collects some of the leading essays in contemporary democratic theory published in the past thirty years. The anthology presents the work of a select group of contributors (including Peter Singer, Joshua Cohen, Ronald Dworkin, Richard Arneson, and others) and covers many foundational approaches defended by scholars from a range of different disciplines. The chapters address many issues that are central to philosophical reflections on democracy, such as questions pertaining to deliberative and economic approaches, as well as to such (...) topics as intrinsic fairness, the role of equality in relation to minority groups, and the limits of democracy. Covering representative work in economics, political science, legal theory, and philosophy, this comprehensive volume is suited to courses in political theory and political philosophy. (shrink)
Cristina Lafont has written a searching and thought-provoking philosophical work on the nature of deliberation in modern democracy. Much of the book is a critique of recent efforts to ground the activity of deliberation in democracy in the light of two sobering and challenging obstacles to the implementation of deliberative democracy in modern society. One challenge arises from the observation of the pluralism of opinion and value in modern democracy. Good faith disagreement on principles and values is wide ranging in (...) modern societies and seems to undermine most kinds of consensus aside from the most abstract agreement. A second challenge arises from the division of labor in society and stems from the observation that citizens are often quite ignorant of politics in modern society. They often seem to base their decisions on slim grounds. In what follows, I cannot pretend to do justice to this rich and engrossing book. I will discuss the central concepts of self-government and blind deference first and point to a difficulty that I think lies at the heart of Lafont’s approach. I will then discuss her arguments against deep pluralism and suggest how I think they miss the target and how I think one ought to reply fully to pluralism. I will also take up her arguments against lottocracy, which I think are good ones. But I will argue that they are not sufficient to demonstrate why we should not be lottocrats. I will then conclude with some remarks about what is necessary to respond to the problems lottocracy is meant to respond to. (shrink)
Democratic theorists stress the importance of free and equal discussion and debate in a well-functioning democratic process. In this process, citizens attempt to persuade each other to support legislation by appealing to considerations of justice, liberty or the common good and are open to changing their minds when hearing the arguments of others. They are concerned to ground policy and legislation on the most defensible considerations of morality and the best empirical evidence. To be sure, majority rule remains important in (...) democratic decision making because of the persistence of disagreement. But many have argued that debates over legislation that appeal to moral considerations ought to be given a much larger place in our understanding of the ideals of democracy than theorists have given them in the past. This emphasis on the importance of moral debate and discussion in democracy is characteristic of what I call thewideview of deliberative democracy. (shrink)
Analysis of the nature of voting is fundamental to an understanding of the nature and value of democracy. Three questions ought to be distinguished concerning voting. First, how are we to conceive of the activity of voting? What is its nature? Second, what is it that people aim at when they vote? What are the grounds on which people vote, the reasons with which they justify their vote? And third, what ought people to aim at when they vote? What are (...) the relevant grounds for voting in one way or another? These last are explicitly normative questions. At times individuals vote on the basis of concerns which are not appropriate to the issues involved. The first question is not a question of psychology or of value; it is a metaphysical question. What is the nature of voting? How is it possible to count votes? Two answers are widely given in the literature. The first is that voting consists in the expression of preference. On this kind of view, either a vote is a preference or it is a fairly direct and unambiguous expression of the preference of the voter. (shrink)
This book reflects on the research and career of political theorist Russell Hardin from scholars of Political Science, Philosophy, Sociology, Economics, and Law, among other disciplines. Contributions address core issues of political theory as perceived by Hardin, starting with his insistence that many of the basic institutions of modern society and their formative historical beginnings can be understood as proceeding primarily from the self-interested motives of the participants. Many of the contributions in this volume struggle with the constraints imposed on (...) political theorizing by the idea of self-interested agents, or homo economicus. Some reject the idea as empirically unfounded. Others try to show that homo economicus is even more versatile than Hardin depicts. And yet others accept the constraints and work within them. But all pay tribute to the lasting intellectual contribution of Russell Hardin and the challenge he poses. The book should appeal to scholars and students interested in collective action, public choice and democracy, moral reasoning and its limits, constitutionalism, liberalism, conventions and coordination, trust, identity politics, social epistemology, and methods in politics philosophy. (shrink)
The Wage Setting Process In this paper I will defend a conception of fairness in labor markets. I will argue that we should take a procedural approach to the evaluation of fairness in markets. The procedural approach defended here goes beyond the traditional procedural view that requires only the absence of force and fraud. But it avoids the pitfalls of the other classical conception of fairness in the market: the idea of a just wage or just price. Fairness in markets (...) is analogous to fairness in the democratic process. I will start with a discussion and critique of Joseph Heath’s stimulating discussion of fairness in labor markets. Though I agree in part with his assessment of the just wage tradition, I will argue that there is room for thinking about fairness in markets. I will then lay out a conception of fairness that is based on the analogy with democracy. The procedural idea of equal power can be given an interpretation both in perfectly competitive markets and in imperfectly competitive markets. I will show how this approach has implications for conceiving of how firms ought to be organized and for defining a fair process of wage setting in the essentially highly imperfect conditions of the labor market. (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 theory of deliberative democracy is a field of democratic theory that studies the contribution of public discussion, argumentation, and reasoning to the normative justification of democratic decision‐making. In this essay, we first explore two competing visions of the moral ideal of deliberative democracy: the rational consensus conception and the wide conception. This establishes a normative framework for analyzing several important applied issues that arise in thinking about deliberative democracy in the real world: the role of cognitive diversity in deliberative (...) decision‐making, the problem of rational ignorance, inequality in public deliberation, and the problem of group polarization. (shrink)