Controlling Nuclear Weapons: Democracy versus Guardianship

By Robert Dahl | Go to book overview

4
Is Political Equality Justified?
THE PREVIOUS CHAPTERS lead to three conclusions that taken together create a problem with no evident solution:
1. Existing democratic processes are highly unsatisfactory for dealing with unusually complex issues like nuclear weapons.
2. Those who now make decisions on complex issues do not possess the special knowledge and virtue required for true guardians.
3. True guardians or philosopher-kings, to whom the decisions on all major issues could safely be entrusted, are not at all likely to make such decisions in the future because rulers are not likely to be true philosophers, and true philosophers are not likely to be rulers.

Finding a solution to the problem posed by these conclusions is extraordinarily difficult because of two seemingly irreconcilable facts. The first fact is that in order to deal with nuclear weapons and other complex matters of public policy, some delegation of authority to leaders is unavoidable.The second is that moral and technical judgments are highly interdependent. But because of this interdependence, it is impossible for us simply to delegate authority to leaders to make technical judgments about the most efficient means to ends we approve of, much less establish in advance.

-53-

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Controlling Nuclear Weapons: Democracy versus Guardianship
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • The Frank W. Abrams Lectures *
  • Controlling Nuclear Weapons - Democracy Versus Guardianship *
  • Contents *
  • Foreword vii
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • Introduction 1
  • I Obstacles to Democratic Control 5
  • 2 the Case for Guardianship 19
  • 3 a Critique of Guardianship 33
  • 4 is Political Equality Justified? 53
  • 5 Vision of a Possible Future 69
  • Appendixes 91
  • Notes 95
  • Bibliography 105
  • Index 109
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