The Rule of the Many: Fundamental Issues in Democratic Theory

By Thomas Christiano | Go to book overview

CHAPTER TWO Equality

Society is organized by terms of association by which all are bound. The problem is to determine who has the right to define these terms of association. Democrats state that only the people have a right to rule over the society. And they argue that citizens ought to be equals in important respects in making these decisions. What is the basis of these views? We have seen that liberty accounts of democracy fail to provide a thorough understanding of the foundations of democratic decisionmaking. In large part this failure is due to the dependence of these conceptions on consensus within the society. They are unable to account for the basic democratic principle that when there are disagreements over what the terms of association are to be, that view that secures support from a majority of the citizens ought to be chosen. This is the problem of incompatibility. These theories also fail to account for the interests persons have in democratic decisionmaking that explain why a person ought to be allotted equal shares in political rule. This is the problem of trade-offs.

Although liberty over the common social world is incompatible with democracy, equality on its own may provide the basis. After all, democracy implies commitments to equality, such as equality in voting power as well as equality of opportunity to participate in discussion. Egalitarian theories attempt to derive a conception of democracy from a principle of equality among persons. They acknowledge fundamental conflicts of interests and convictions in society and assert that because of this lack of consensus, each person may demand an equal share in political rule.

At the same time an egalitarian conception of the foundations of democracy must include an important component of liberty views

-47-

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The Rule of the Many: Fundamental Issues in Democratic Theory
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • Introduction 1
  • Notes 11
  • Part One Foundations of Democracy 13
  • Chapter One - Self-Government 15
  • Chapter Two - Equality 47
  • Notes 98
  • Part Two Democracy and the Problem of the Modern State 103
  • Chapter Three - the Challenge of the Modern State to the Democratic Ideals 104
  • Notes 128
  • Chapter Four - the Economic Conception of Citizenship 131
  • Notes 159
  • Chapter Five - a Normative Conception of Citizenship 165
  • Notes 201
  • Part Three Principles and Problems of Democratic Institutions 205
  • Chapter Six - Equality and Legislative Representation 206
  • Notes 240
  • Chapter Seven - Interest Groups and Political Parties as Institutions of Deliberation 243
  • Notes 262
  • Chapter Eight Equality in the Process of Social Deliberation 265
  • Notes 295
  • Selected Bibliography 299
  • About the Book and Author 305
  • Index 307
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