Philosophy and Democracy: An Anthology

By Thomas Christiano | Go to book overview

2
AN ARGUMENT FOR DEMOCRATIC
EQUALITY
Thomas Christiano

Society is organized by terms of association by which all are bound. The problem is to determine who has the right to define these terms of association. Democrats state that only the people have a right to rule over the society. And they argue that citizens ought to be equals in important respects in making these decisions. What is the basis of these views? We have seen that liberty accounts of democracy fail to provide a thorough understanding of the foundations of democratic decision making. In large part this failure is due to the dependence of these conceptions on consensus within the society. They are unable to account for the basic democratic principle that when there are disagreements over what the terms of association are to be, that view that secures support from a majority of the citizens ought to be chosen. This is the problem of incompatibility. These theories also fail to account for the interests persons have in democratic decision making that explain why a person ought to be allotted equal shares in political rule. This is the problem of trade-offs.

Although liberty over the common social world is incompatible with democracy, equality on its own may provide the basis. After all, democracy implies commitments to equality, such as equality in voting power as well as equality of opportunity to participate in discussion. Egalitarian theories attempt to derive a conception of democracy from a principle of equality among persons. They acknowledge fundamental conflicts of interests and convictions in society and assert that because of this lack of consensus, each person may demand an equal share in political rule.

At the same time an egalitarian conception of the foundations of democracy must include an important component of liberty views that is often left out by egalitarians. It ought to accommodate and explain the importance of the convictions citizens hold and the role of public discussion in democracy. Democratic decision making is not merely a matter of each person voting his or her preference. Individual citizens' preferences are formed in society as a result of social interaction

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Philosophy and Democracy: An Anthology
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page *
  • Credits v
  • Contents vii
  • Contributors ix
  • Philosophy and Democracy 1
  • Introduction 3
  • Notes 13
  • I - Arguments for the Intrinsic Worth of Democracy 15
  • 1 - Procedure and Substance in Deliberative Democracy 17
  • Notes *
  • 2 - An Argument for Democratic Equality 39
  • Notes *
  • 3 - Beyond Fairness and Deliberation : the Epistemic Dimension of Democratic Authority 69
  • Notes *
  • II - Arguments for the Merely Instrumental Worth of Democracy 93
  • 4 - Democratic Rights at the National Level 95
  • Notes *
  • 5 - What is Equality? Part 4: Political Equality 116
  • Notes *
  • 6 - The Market and the Forum Three Varieties of Political Theory 138
  • Notes *
  • III - Economic Conceptions of Democracy 159
  • 7 - Social Choice Theory and Constitutional Democracy 161
  • Notes *
  • 8 - The Calculus of Consent 195
  • Notes *
  • 9 - Rationality and the Justification of Democracy 216
  • Notes *
  • IV - Constitutionalism 239
  • 10 - The Majoritarian Premise and Constitutionalism 241
  • Notes *
  • 11 - Philosophy and Democracy 258
  • Notes 273
  • 12 - The Market as Prison 275
  • Notes *
  • V - Minorities 285
  • 13 - Polity and Group Difference a Critique of the Ideal of Universal Citizenship 287
  • Notes *
  • 14 - Democracy and Difference Some Problems for Feminist Theory 310
  • Notes *
  • 15 - Is Democracy Special 321
  • Notes *
  • Select Bibliography 351
  • Index 355
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