Philosophy and Democracy: An Anthology

Philosophy and Democracy: An Anthology

Philosophy and Democracy: An Anthology

Philosophy and Democracy: An Anthology

Synopsis

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.

Excerpt

What is valuable about democracy and what are the limits of this value? These are the two questions that are the focus of the essays in this volume. And these are among the most important questions in political philosophy today. For when there are disagreements about the right course of action for a political society, some person or group of people must decide what to do. This fact is at the core of most of the problems that we face as members of political communities for two reasons. First, we share cultural, economic, and political institutions with many people. And, second, we encounter pervasive conflicts of interests with our fellow human beings and ubiquitous and deep disagreements with them on how to shape these shared institutions. These disagreements range over matters of social justice, human rights, the common good, and the best means for achieving these aims. Democracy provides a solution to the problem of who may legitimately participate in decision making about issues of great importance to a political community under circumstances of disagreement and conflict of interests. The authors in this volume provide differing philosophical foundations for the idea that democracy is valuable and explore the legitimate shape, scope, and limits of democratic rule.

When we must make decisions about our shared institutions, it is never enough to give good arguments for our favored conception of justice or liberty and for the policy implications of these ideas. Some person or group of people must decide in favor of a proposal in order for it to be implemented. We know that we will ineluctably face disagreement among well-meaning and reasonable people. All of us have inevitably limited access to the truths on which we wish to ground our proposals for organizing our political communities because we inhabit only small parts of the complex societies we live in. All of us are fallible in our efforts to think through the difficulties we face in the political communities we share with others. We know that the judgments each one of us makes in formulating proposals for our communities are biased in favor of our own interests . . .

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