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Issues in Political Theory

Issues in Political Theory (4th edn)

Catriona McKinnon, Robert Jubb, and Patrick Tomlin
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date: 20 May 2024

p. 704. Democracylocked

p. 704. Democracylocked

  • Thomas Christiano


This chapter looks at democracy. The term ‘democracy’ refers very generally to a method of group decision making that is characterized by a kind of equality among the participants at an essential stage. To evaluate the arguments of democratic theorists, we must decide on the merits of the different principles, and conceptions, of humanity and society from which they proceed. We can evaluate democracy along at least two different dimensions: instrumentally, by reference to the outcomes of using it compared with other methods of political decision making; or intrinsically, by reference to qualities that are inherent in the method — for example, whether there is something inherently fair about making democratic decisions about matters on which people disagree. A vexing problem of democracy is whether ordinary citizens are up to the task of governing a large society. The chapter then offers some solutions for the problem of democratic citizenship.

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