Controlling Nuclear Weapons: Democracy versus Guardianship

By Robert Dahl | Go to book overview

Notes

CHAPTER 2 — THE CASE FOR GUARDIANSHIP
1.
Meritocracy, a comparatively recent term, usually refers to a body of officials selected exclusively by merit and universal competition who, however, are at least nominally subordinate to others — a cabinet, president, legislature, and the like. In this sense, meritocracy might in principle be perfectly consistent with democratic control, provided only that democratically chosen rulers rule over the meritocracy. Thus meritocracy becomes equivalent to a bureaucracy based on merit. However, the alternative discussed in this chapter is a regime - meritocratic rulership — in which the rulers consist of a minority of those persons most qualified to rule, which by definition excludes the operation of the democratic process (except possibly as a subordinate process, in the way that the administrative process in a democracy is meant to be subordinate to the democratic process). Because of this possible ambiguity, I prefer to use Plato's more evocative term, though it may be less common in modern usage.
2.
Some scholars, a minority, argue that Plato really intended to show the impossibility of a regime like that described in The Republic. It is surely true that on close textual analysis Plato's argument is more ambiguous and complex than it appears on the surface to be.Here I assume one possible interpretation and make no claim that it is the only reasonable interpretation.
3.
Adolfo Sánehez Vásquez, The Philosophy of Praxis ( London: Merlin Press, 1977).
4.
On John Stuart Mill, see particularly Dennis F. Thompson, John Stuart Mill and Representative Government ( Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1976). See also my " Procedural Democracy," in Philosophy, Politics, and Society, 5th series, edited by Peter Laslett and James S. Fishkin ( New Haven: Yale University Press, 1979).

-95-

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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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