The Rule of the Many: Fundamental Issues in Democratic Theory

By Thomas Christiano | Go to book overview

These rather abstract principles will be applied to the evaluation of concrete democratic institutions throughout the rest of this work. In Part Two I will discuss a fundamental challenge to the ideals of democracy that arises in the modern state. In large democracies, the role of ordinary citizens is in danger of being eclipsed by the complex apparatus of the state. Ordinary citizenship appears to be incompatible with the abstract ideals of political equality and rational discussion that I have elaborated in the last two chapters. In Chapter 3 I will lay out the challenge and in 4 and 5 I will discuss different conceptions of citizenship and defend a conception of the role of citizenship in society that reconciles the ideals of democracy with the conditions of the modern state. In Part Three I will elaborate a theory of political institutions for modern society that provides the complement to the role of citizenship I defend. In 6 I will lay out principles for evaluating institutions for legislative representation. In Chapters 7 and 8 I will discuss principles for evaluating institutions of social discussion and show how the system of interest groups and political parties ought to be evaluated in terms of these principles.


Notes
1.
Peter Singer, Democracy and Disobedience ( Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1974), chapter 5.
2.
Singer, Democracy and Disobedience, p. 32.
3.
See Thomas Christiano, "Freedom, Consensus, and Equality in Collective Decision Making", Ethics October ( 1990): pp. 151-181, especially pp. 171-175.
4.
See Robert Dahl, A Preface to Democratic Theory ( Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1956), pp. 64-67; Dahl, "Procedural Democracy", in Philosophy, Politics, and Society, 5th Ser., ed. James Fishkin and Peter Laslett ( New Haven: Yale University Press, 1979), pp. 97-133, especially pp. 99-101 and p. 125; and Peter Jones, "Political Equality and Majority Rule", in The Nature of Political Theory, ed. David Miller and Larry Siedentop ( Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1983), pp. 155-182, especially p. 166.
5.
In Thomas Rainsborough "The Putney Debates: The Debate on the Franchise (1647)", in Divine Right and Democracy, ed. David Wootton ( Harmondsworth, Eng.: Penguin Books, 1986), pp. 285-317, especially p. 286.

-98-

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