Accelerating Democracy: Transforming Governance through Technology

By John O. McGinnis | Go to book overview

CHAPTER TWO
Democracy, Consequences, and Social Knowledge

DEMOCRACY SERVES MANY FUNCTIONS. It helps capture the preferences of citizens, making the government responsive to what the public wants. Over time responsiveness has become a crucial source of legitimacy for government. It is not enough for a government to reflect the preferences of citizens, however; it has to be perceived as doing so. Thus, on Election Day the public display of the results of changing preferences is as important as the election results themselves. But there is a third, just as important but often neglected function of democracy: its capacity to assess and predict the consequences of social policies. It is this function of democracy—consequentialist democracy—that the tools of the information age can most easily improve.


Consequentialist Democracy

While modern political theorists rarely emphasize the consequentialist aspect of democracy, this function has been important since its early days. In his famous Funeral Oration, Pericles, the Athenian statesman, defended democratic deliberation by pointing to its capacity for assessing the probable consequences of governmental decisions in advance: “We Athenians, in our own persons, take our decisions on policy and submit them to proper discussions: for we do not think there is incompatibility between words and deeds; the worst thing is to rush into action before the consequences have been properly debated.”1 Democracy empowers citizens to evaluate the debates about consequences by giving them a vote.

It is true that many important details of policies are left to leaders and experts to determine and to implement. But the essential roles of leaders and experts in a democracy do not lessen the need for richer information. The execution of policy by leaders and experts will also improve with social knowledge. Indeed, in many modern conceptions of democracy the functions of experts and leaders are the essence of the democratic system: ordinary people merely choose among different elites and leave them to

-25-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this book

This book has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this book

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Accelerating Democracy: Transforming Governance through Technology
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen
/ 214

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.