DEMOCRACY AND POLITICAL OBLIGATION
"Democracy" is an honorific term. Normally, to call people democrats is to praise them, while to call people undemocratic is normally to suggest that their political morality is questionable. So powerful have the honorific connotations of "democracy" become that even totalitarian states have taken to calling themselves "true" or "people's" democracies.
But if the meaning of "democracy" is stretched so wide that virtually any government counts as one, the word is trivialized. In calling a state democratic, we would not be ruling out any particular way it deals with its citizens. So if any examination of the purported justifications of democracy is to prove fruitful, it is important to be clear about what is and what is not to count as a democracy.
Such clarity is especially important because of the prominent place given democracy in the writings of such theorists as Locke, Madison, Rousseau, and Rawls. Moreover, we have argued that states or governments are to be evaluated according to the degree to which they satisfy two fundamental criteria. First, they should protect and, where appropriate, implement the natural or human rights of their citizens. Second, they must institute just procedures for the adjudication of conflicting claims of right. We maintain that, at least in countries whose population exists significantly above the subsistence level, democracy is the principal procedure for such