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Authority and Democracy The Non-Instrumental Value of Democracy.

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Presentation on theme: "Authority and Democracy The Non-Instrumental Value of Democracy."— Presentation transcript:

1 Authority and Democracy The Non-Instrumental Value of Democracy

2 The problem Who may participate in decision making about issues that concern the political community given: -Reasonable disagreement -Persistent conflicting interests

3 What is Democracy? Democracy is a method of decision making in which the authorization to exercise power must arise from the collective decisions of the members of the group who are governed by that power (J. Cohen).

4 Instrumental arguments for Democracy JS Mill: Democracy is better than non-democratic forms of collective decision making because a)decision-makers are forced to take into account the interests, and opinions of most members of society. b)it’s more reliable in tracking correct decisions because it relies on many sources of information and of critical assessment of laws and policies. c)because it improves the character of citizens

5 Non- Instrumental arguments for Democracy Democracy is intrinsically just, whether or not it produces good outcomes. What is it that give non-instrumental value to Democracy? Three influential answers: a)Self-government b)Equality c)Public Justification

6 a) Self-Government Democracy is valuable because it extends the ideal of moral autonomy (we should be master of our own life) to the domain of collective decision making. Two steps:  Our life is deeply affected by collective political decisions.  Only if each person has an equal voice in the process will each have control over the decisions taken. Democracy is required by the ideal of self-government independently of the value of the outcomes. [Contrast: Instrumentalism and the problem of plural votes]

7 Rejecting Instrumentalism Why should we be indifferent to the quality of the decisions? Individuals have a right to make some bad decisions about how to run their life. Groups of individuals have the right to make bad decisions about how they run their collective activities. Collective self-determination is more valuable than making correct decisions.

8 b) Equality Democracy “publicly embodies the equal advancement of the interests of the citizens of a society when there is disagreement about how best to organize their shared life” (Christiano 2004). Political societies should advance equally the interests of the members of the society. + Each citizen must be able to see that equality is being advanced in a way that treats everyone as equals. Equality must be realized publicly. This requires that individuals’ judgments be taken into account equally when there is disagreement.

9 c) Public Justification Laws and policies are legitimate when they are publicly justified to the citizens of the community, i.e. defended on the basis of mutually acceptable reasons. By taking part in democratic deliberation we respect each others as equals. We acknowledge that we cannot impose our conception of the good on those who would reasonable reject them.

10 What does “reasonable” mean? Reasonable deliberators do not propose laws and policies on the basis of conceptions of the goods, because the latter rely on controversial moral principles. When we offer principles for the regulation of life together, we should not appeal to what we think is “the whole truth”, but only to that part of it that others can also accept. Why?

11 Moral argument We fail to respect the reasons held by others if we impose on them laws and policies that they cannot reasonably accept. Reply: why is it any less of an imposition on me to restrain myself from offering considerations that others can reasonably accept than it is an imposition on them when I advance policies on the basis of reasons they reasonably reject? Living in a society that does not accord with my conception of how it ought to be organized is a loss of control equal to the one that they would suffer if my policies were advanced.

12 Democratic argument We do not genuinely treat others as equals if one insists on imposing principles on them that they cannot reasonably accept. Treating them as equals requires justifying our views in terms that they can reasonably accept Reply: Why isn’t enough that each person has a robust rights to participate in decision making and that her views are given a reasonable hearing?

13 Public acceptability principle Even when we reasonably disagree over a certain moral issue, there is a sense in which the outcome of a democratic procedure is acceptable to all of us, for the procedure through which the issue is decided is one that can be defended to all those subject to it. We have a duty to obey democratically taken decisions, even if a)they believe that they are unjust, and b)their belief is correct. In disobeying, we would be claiming for ourselves a moral expertise that could not be justified to his fellow citizens, thereby placing himself above the results of the democratic process. Estlund’ “trial by jury example”

14 Estlund’s xceptions to the duty to obey In the exceptional case in which a jailer has first-hand knowledge of the innocence of the prisoner she is guarding, she does not have a duty to keep the prisoner in jail, even if the sentence has been inflicted after evidence of her first-hand knowledge has been considered by the jury. If the decision “is not even close to what would be just if the facts were as the authority states them to be, or if the stated view of the justifying facts is not even close to a reasonable conclusion based on the appropriate materials”, there is is no duty to obey


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