In the history of political thought, justifications of democracy begin with the defense and articulation of certain basic political values and argue that democratic decisionmaking embodies or promotes them. There are basically three kinds of arguments. The first is that democracy is based on self-government. Some thinkers claim that liberty is the preeminent political value and argue that democratic society embodies the liberty of its citizens more than any other kind of society. They argue that democratic government is the only kind of government wherein individuals freely impose laws on themselves. Government and law are necessary to solve certain basic problems in social interaction. Without government and law, individuals find themselves in an unpredictable world of conflict and violence. Conversely, government and law impose constraints on individual action. Only when these constraints are self-imposed do individuals remain free when living under law. Inasmuch as liberty is intrinsically valuable, democracy is intrinsically valuable.
The second kind of argument is that democracy is founded on the equality of citizens. These theorists argue that equality is the fundamental political value and that democratic decisionmaking embodies the equality of citizens. Decisions about the terms of association under which we must live affect the interests of all the citizens. When decisions must be made that affect the interests of all, then each has a right to an equal say in making these decisions. The only alternative is that some have more say than others, as in monarchy or aristocracy. These first two arguments suggest that democracy is intrinsically worthwhile because it embodies certain intrinsically worthwhile properties. They each argue that the citizens have a