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Chapter6
Justifications:TheIdeaofEqualIntrinsicWorth
Toshowthattheargumentsforanarchismandguardianshipareunsatisfactoryisfarfromshowingthatdemocracyisthebestalternative.Onwhatgroundscanabelief
inthedemocraticprocessberationallyjustified,orif''rationally"seemstoodemanding,atleastreasonablyjustified?

Toanswerthisquestionwebeginwiththeassumptionthatinordertolivetogetherinanassociation,themembersoftheassociationwillneedaprocessformaking
decisionsabouttheassociation'sprinciples,rules,laws,policies,conduct,andsoon.Themembersareexpectedtoconformtothesedecisions:thedecisionsare
binding.Becauseassociationdecisionslikethesearedifferentinimportantwaysfromindividualchoicesanddecisions,wecancallthemgovernmentalorbinding
collectivedecisions.

Tolivetogetherinanassociation,then,peopleneedaprocessforarrivingatgovernmentaldecisions:apoliticalprocess.IfImayoversimplifythealternatives,one
solutionmightbeahierarchicalprocess:certainleaderswouldmakethedecisions.Ideally,perhaps,theseleaderswouldbearelativelysmallgroupwhotoan
extraordinarydegreepossessedqualitiesofknowledgeandvirtue.Thisidealsolutionis,ofcourse,agovernmentbyguardians.ThealternativethatInowturnto,
however,isademocraticprocessforgoverning.Inchapter8Iamgoingtopresentasetofcriteriathatdistinguishthedemocraticprocessnotonlyfromguardianship
butfromotheralternativesaswell.Meanwhile,wecangetalongadequatelywiththenotionofdemocracyas"rulebythepeople,"or,tonarrowdowntheideaabit
more,asrulebyademos,acitizenbodyconsistingofmemberswhoareconsideredequalsforpurposesofarrivingatgovernmentaldecisions.

DemocracyAsTendingtoProducetheBestFeasibleSystemTakenAllaround

Manyattemptstojustifydemocracyrefertodemocraticsystemsthatprettycloselyapproximatetheirideal.Yetidealpoliticalsystems,andidealstatesin



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particular,haveneverexisted,donotexist,andalmostsurelyneverwillexist.Iwantthereforetomentionajustificationfordemocracythat,althoughmuchtooloose
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andnonphilosophicaltoconvincepoliticaltheoristsandphilosophers,mayhavefarwiderappealthanmorephilosophicalarguments.Infact,Ishouldnotbesurprised
ifitweretheunstatedconvictionofmanydemocratictheoristsandtheunphilosophicgroundoftheirenterprise.

Thisissimplythat,whentheideaofdemocracyisactivelyadoptedbyapeople,ittendstoproducethebestfeasiblepoliticalsystem,oratanyratethebeststate,
takenallaround.Inthisview,manyofthephilosophicaljustificationsofferedfordemocracymaybetrue.Buttheyspeaktopoliticalidealsratherthandirectlytohuman
experience.Ahardheadedlookathumanexperience,historicalandcontemporary,showsthatamongpoliticalsocietiesthathaveactuallyexisted,ornowexist,those
thatmostnearlysatisfythecriteriaofthedemocraticideaare,takenallaround,betterthantherest.Thisdoesnotmeanthatactual"democracies"areoreverhave
beenhighlydemocratic,measuredagainsttheexactingcriteriaofdemocraticideals.Butasaconsequenceofmeetingthosecriteriamorefullythanotherregimes,and
alsoofthepoliticalculturethattheideaandpracticesofdemocracygenerate,onthewholetheyare,withalltheirimperfections,moredesirablethananyfeasible
nondemocraticalternative.

Howarewetojudgethevalidityofaclaimlikethis?Wecannotreasonablydecidewhetherdemocracyisjustifieduntilwehavecompareditwithitsalternatives.Is
democracysuperior,forexample,toasystemofguardianshiplikethatenvisionedbyPlatoinTheRepublic?Tomakesuchacomparisonwewouldnotonlyneedto
understandagreatdealaboutdemocracy,bothasanidealandasafeasiblerealitywewouldalsoneedtounderstandthealternative,bothasanidealandasafeasible
reality.Inmakingsuchcomparisons,however,wemustavoidcomparingidealorangeswithactualapples,aprocedurenicelydesignedtoshowthatactualapplesare
inferiortoidealoranges.Althoughcomparisonsareoftenmade,explicitlyorimplicitly,betweentheidealperformanceofonekindofregimeandtheactual
performanceofanother,itishardtoknowwhattomakeofthem.Itseemsmoreappropriatetocomparethedemocraticidealwiththeidealofguardianshipandthe
actualityofdemocracyinpracticewiththeactualityofhierarchicalregimesinpractice.Butclearlythisisamajorundertaking.Tocompleteitwilltakemuchofthis
book.Consequently,theargumentinthischapterandthenextmustbereadascontingentontheargumentsofthechaptersthatfollow.

TheIdeaofIntrinsicEquality

Anobviousobjectiontotheclaimthatthebestfeasiblesystemtendstoexistwhenapeopleactivelyadoptstheideaofdemocracyisthattheargumentismeaningless
unlessweknowwhatismeantby"best."Bywhatcriteriaarewetoappraisetheworthofdemocracywhetherasanidealorasanactuality?

Ibelievethatvirtuallyallattemptstoansweraquestionlikethisultimatelyfallback,evenifonlybyimplication,onanassumptionsofundamentalthatitis



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presupposedinmostmoralargument.Thisiswhatmightbecalledtheideaofintrinsicequality.
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AversionofthisideaiscontainedinawellknownpassageinLocke'sSecondTreatiseofGovernment:
ThoughIhavesaidabove...ThatallMenbyNatureareequal,IcannotbesupposedtounderstandallsortsofEquality:AgeorVirtuemaygiveMenajustPrecedency:
ExcellencyofPartsandMeritmayplaceothersabovetheCommonLevel:Birthmaysubjectsome,andAllianceorBenefitsothers,topayanObservancetothosetowhom
Nature,GratitudeorotherRespectsmayhavemadeitdueandyetallthisconsistswiththeEquality,whichallMenarein,inrespectofJurisdictionorDominiononeoveranother,
whichwastheEqualityItherespokeof,aspropertotheBusinessinhand,beingthatequalRightthateveryManhath,tohisNaturalFreedom,withoutbeingsubjectedtothe
WillorAuthorityofanyotherMan.(Locke[1689/90]1970,chap.6,para.54,p.322)

Lockewasascribingtomenakindofintrinsicequalitythatwhileclearlyirrelevanttomanysituationsshoulddefinitelybedecisiveforcertainpurposes,specificallyfor
purposesofgovernment.ThoughLockecastshisversioninaspecialform,heshareswithmanyothersafundamentalbeliefthatatleastonmattersrequiringcollective
decisions"allMen"(orallpersons?)are,oroughttobeconsidered,equalinsomeimportantsense.IamgoingtocallthisunderlyingnotiontheIdeaofIntrinsic
Equality.

Inwhatrespectsarepersonsintrinsicallyequal,andwhatrequirements,ifany,doestheirequalityimposeonaprocessformakingcollectivedecisions?Itiseasierto
saywhatintrinsicequalitydoesnotmean,asLockedoes,thantosaymorepreciselywhatitdoesmean.ToLockeintrinsicequalityevidentlymeansthatnooneis
naturallyentitledtosubjectanothertohis(or,certainly,toher)willorauthority.Itfollowsthat"noonecanbe...subjectedtothePoliticalPowerofanotherwithout
hisownConsent"(chap.8,para.95,p.348).1 Tosome,however,intrinsicequalitymeansthatallhumanbeingsareofequalintrinsicworth,or,puttheotherway
around,thatnopersonisintrinsicallysuperiortoanother.2 ToJohnRawls,whofindstheideathathumanbeingsareofequalintrinsicworthexcessivelyvagueand
elastic,theirintrinsicequalityconsistsratherofthecapacityforhavingaconceptionoftheirgoodandacquiringasenseofjustice.3 Toothers,intrinsicequalitymeans
thatthegoodorinterestsofeachpersonmustbegivenequalconsiderationthisisthewellknownPrincipleofEqualConsiderationofInterests(e.g.,Benn1967,
61ff.).

Howthesevariousinterpretationsofintrinsicequalityarerelated,andwhetherallfinallydependontheideaofintrinsicworth,areunsettledquestionsthatneednot
detainushere.4

Yetdemocracymight,likePlato'srepublic,belittlemorethanaphilosophicalfantasywereitnotforthepersistentandwidespreadinfluenceofthebeliefthathuman
beingsareintrinsicallyequalinafundamentalwayoratanyratesomesubstantialgroupofhumanbeingsare.Historically,theideaofintrinsicequalitygainedmuchof
itsstrength,particularlyinEuropeandtheEnglishspeaking



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countries,fromthecommondoctrineofJudaismandChristianity(sharedalsobyIslam)thatweareequallyGod'schildren.Indeeditwasexactlyonthisbeliefthat
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Lockegroundedhisassertionofthenaturalequalityofallpersonsinastateofnature.

Evenwhenmoralreasoningisintendedtostandindependentofitsreligiousorigins,asitcommonlyhasbeeninrecentcenturies,theIdeaofIntrinsicEqualityis
neverthelessusuallytakenforgranted.ThuswehaveBentham'sdictum,"everybodytocountforone,nobodyformorethanone,"whichJohnStuartMillasserted
"mightbewrittenundertheprincipleofutilityasanexplanatorycommentary"(Mill[1863]1962,319).5 WhatBenthammeant,andwhatallutilitariansassumeasa
premise,isthatnomatterwhoJonesandSmithmaybe,andnomatterhowtheultimatestandardofgoodnessmaybedescribed(whetherhappiness,pleasure,
satisfaction,wellbeing,orutility),Jones'shappiness(orwhatever)mustbecountedinexactlythesameunitsasSmith's.WeoughtnottomeasureJones'shappinessin
shrunkenunitsbecauseheisanilliteratefarmlaborerandSmith'sinlargerunitsbecauseheisanartistofexquisitelyrefinedtastes.EvenwhenJ.S.Millcontendedthat
somepleasuresarebetterthanothers,hecontinuedtoassumetheaxiom,fortoMillastoBenthamtherelativevalueofanobjectoractivitydependedonits
contributiontothepleasureorhappinessoftherecipient,notontheintrinsicandpeculiarworthoftherecipient.6

Utilitarianismisvulnerableinmanyways,ofcourse,andithasalwaysbeensubjectedtoheavyattack,particularlybythosewhotrytodemonstratearightcourseof
action,duty,obligation,orrightthatisnotjustifiedsolelybyitsutilitarianconsequences.Butthesephilosophers,fromKanttoRawls,usuallyalsoadoptapremiseof
intrinsicequality.

Thepersistenceandgeneralityoftheassumptionofintrinsicequalityinsystematicmoralreasoningcouldbeattributedtotheexistenceofanormsodeeplyentrenched
inallWesternculturesthatwecannotrejectitwithoutdenyingourculturalheritageandtherebydenyingwhoweare.Butagroundforadoptingitthatappealslessto
historyandcultureandmoretoitsreasonablenessisthedifficultyofpresentingarationaljustificationforanyalternativetoit.Tobesure,theideacanberejected
withoutselfcontradiction.7 Buttorejectitistoassert,ineffect,thatsomepeopleoughttoberegardedandtreatedasintrinsicallyprivilegedquiteindependentofany
socialcontributiontheymaymake.Tojustifysuchaclaimisaformidabletaskthatnoone,tomyknowledge,hasaccomplished.

Still,thequestionpersists:Whatdoesintrinsicequalityactuallymean?Theaspectthatseemstomemostrelevanttothedemocraticprocessisexpressedinthe
PrincipleofEqualConsiderationofInterests.Yetwhatthatprinciplerequiresisfarfromevident.Letmetrytoclarifyitbothbyfillinginsomeadditionalmeaningand
then,followingLocke,bysayingwhatitdoesnotmean.

Tobeginwith,theprincipleimpliesthatduringaprocessofcollectivedecisionmaking,theinterestsofeverypersonwhoissubjecttothedecisionmust(withinthelimits
offeasibility)beaccuratelyinterpretedandmadeknown.Obviously,withoutthisstep,theinterestsofeach"subject"couldnotbeconsidered,muchless



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givenequalconsideration.Yettheprincipledoesnotimplythatthe"subject"whoseinterestsmustbeconsideredshouldalsobethe"interpreter."Norneedthe
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"interpreter"necessarilybethedecisionmaker.

SupposethesubjectsareAble,Baker,andCarr,butDawsonisthebestpossibleinterpreteroftheirinterests,whiledecisionsarebestmadebyEccles,whois
requiredtogivenequalconsiderationtotheinterestsofAble,Baker,andCarr.Theprinciplewouldrequirenotonlythat(1)Dawsonaccuratelyinterpretsand
expressestheinterestsofAble,Baker,andCarr(2)EcclesfullyunderstandsDawson'sinterpretation,and(3)Ecclesmakesthedecision,afterhavingfullyconsidered
andtakenintoaccounttheinterestsofeach,asinterpretedbyDawson.Butadditionally(4)indeciding,Ecclesgives"equalconsideration"totheinterestsofeach.
WhatthismeansisthatEcclestreatsAble,Baker,andCarrasequallyentitledtohavingtheirinterestsserved,withnoonehavinganintrinsicallyprivilegedclaim.
SupposeAble'sinterestisbestservedbychoosingX,Baker'sbyY,andCarr'sbyZ.TheprincipleprohibitsEcclesfromchoosingZ,say,onthegroundthatCarr's
claimtoZisintrinsicallysuperior(forwhateverreasons)toAble'sclaimtoXorBaker'stoY.EcclesmustsearchforadecisionthatisneutralwithrespecttoAble,
Baker,andCarr.8

TwoWeaknessesintheIdeaofIntrinsicEquality

Standingalone,however,theIdeaofIntrinsicEqualityisnotrobustenoughtojustifymuchinthewayofconclusionsandcertainlynotdemocracy.Itisweakinat
leasttwoways.Inthefirstplace,whateverlimitsitmaysetoninequalitiesareextremelybroad.Itdoesnotmean,forexample,thatweareallentitledtoequalshares,
whetherinvotes,civilrights,medicalcare,oranythingelse.Whileitwouldruleoutsomeallocations,itwouldallowanimmenserange.Ifmyneighborhasdefective
kidneysandneedsdialysisinordertosurvive,equalshareswouldrequirethatbothofus,orneitherofus,wouldbeentitledtoit,whichofcoursewouldbe
nonsensical.

WecanseethelimitsoftheprinciplemoreclearlywiththeaidofDouglasRae's"grammarofequality"(Rae1981).Insomesituations,Eccles'sbestsolutionmightbe
toawardamountsthatwouldprovideeachpersonwith"goods"ofequalvaluetoeachperson.Whatisof"equalvaluetoeachperson"mightbedeterminedby
consideringeachperson'sneeds,wants,satisfactions,ends,orwhatever.Thisis''personregardingequality."However,whileintrinsicequalitymightseemalwaysto
requirepersonregardingequality,sometimesEcclesmightreasonablychoosetoawardAble,Baker,andCarrequallots,bundles,orquotasof"goods."Thisislot
regardingequality.Ordinarilyequalityoflotswillviolatepersonregardingequality,andconversely.

TheIdeaofIntrinsicEqualityalsoleavesopenotherdeeplytroublesomequestionsthatDawsontheinterpreterandEcclesthedecisionmakerwillhavetoanswer.
WhatoughtDawsontheinterpretertotakeasAble,Baker,andCarr's"interests"theirownpreferences,forexample,theirwants,theirneeds,orsomeotherbasisof
substantivegood?NordoestheprincipletellEcclesthedecision



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makerwhethertoawardeachpersontheappropriategoodsdirectlyortryinsteadtoensurethatAble,Baker,andCarrallhaveequalopportunitiestoattainthe
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appropriatesubstantivegoods.SupposeEcclesconcludesthattheinterestsofAble,Baker,andCarrwouldbebestservedbyprovidingthemwithequal
opportunities.DoestheirintrinsicequalityrequireEcclestoawardeachofthemtheidenticalmeansorinstrumentsforattainingtheirinterests,suchastwelveyearsof
essentiallyidenticalschooling?OrinsteadshouldEcclestrytoensurethatAble,Baker,andCarrallhaveanequalprobabilityofattainingtheirends,forexampleby
special(andmorecostly)educationforAble,whoisintellectuallygiftedincertainways,andforBaker,whoisculturallyhandicapped?

Thesecondweaknessisaconsequenceofthefirst.AsIhavealreadysaid,nothingintheassumptionofintrinsicequalityimpliesthatAble,Baker,andCarrarethe
bestjudgesoftheirowngoodorinterests.SupposeitweretruethatafewpeoplelikeEcclesnotonlyunderstoodmuchbetterthantheotherswhatconstitutestheir
individualandcommongood,andhowbesttobringitabout,butcouldbefullytrustedtodoso.ThenitwouldbeperfectlyconsistentwiththeIdeaofIntrinsicEquality
toconcludethatthesepersonsofsuperiorknowledgeandvirtue,likeEccles,shouldruleoveralltheothers.Evenmore:ifthegoodofeachpersonisentitledtoequal
consideration,andifasuperiorgroupofguardianscouldbestensureequalconsideration,thenitfollowsthatguardianshipwoulddefinitelybedesirable,and
democracyjustasdefinitelywouldbeundesirable.

Inthenextchapter,therefore,Ishallintroduceasecondandequallyfamiliarprinciple,whichIcallthePresumptionofPersonalAutonomy.JoinedwiththeIdeaof
IntrinsicEquality,ithelpstoprovideasturdyfoundationfordemocraticbeliefs.

Beforeturningtopersonalautonomy,however,itisimportanttoseewhatfurthercontentwecangivetotheterm"interests."Advocatesofdemocracyhavegenerally
interpretedthemostfundamental"interests"or"good"ofhumanbeingsinthreeways.Itisintheinterestsofhumanbeingsthattheyhaveopportunitiestoachieve
maximumfeasiblefreedom,todevelopfullytheircapacitiesandpotentialitiesashumanbeings,andtoattainsatisfactionofalltheotherintereststheythemselvesjudge
important,withinlimitsoffeasibilityandfairnesstoothers.Democracy,itcanbeargued,isanessentialmeanstothesefundamentalinterests,eventhoughitmaybefar
fromasufficientconditionforachievingthem.

DemocracyAsInstrumentaltoMaximumFeasibleFreedom

Sincetheseventeenthcentury,advocatesofdemocracyhavestronglystresseditsrelationtofreedom.Fromthisperspective,democracyisinstrumentaltofreedomin
threeways.

GeneralFreedom

Ithaslongbeenrecognizedbybothadvocatesandopponentsofdemocracythatitislinkedtofreedominawaydifferentfromthatofanyotherkindofregime.
Becausecertainrights,liberties,andopportunitiesareessentialtothedemocratic



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processitself,aslongasthatprocessexiststhentheserights,freedoms,andopportunitiesmustnecessarilyalsoexist.Theseincluderightstofreeexpression,political
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organization,opposition,fairandfreeelections,andsoon.Consequentlytheminimalrangeofpoliticalfreedominademocraticsysteminherentlycomprisesafairly
broadrangeofimportantrights.9 Butthesefundamentalpoliticalrightsareunlikelytoexistinisolation.Thepoliticalculturerequiredtosupporttheexistenceofa
democraticorderwhatTocquevillecalledthemannersofapeople,"namely,themoralandintellectualcharacteristicsofsocialmantakencollectively"(1840,
2:379)tendstoemphasizethevalueofpersonalrights,freedoms,andopportunities.Thusnotonlyasanidealbutinactualpractice,thedemocraticprocessis
surroundedbyapenumbraofpersonalfreedom.

Asaresultoftherightsinherentlyrequiredforthedemocraticprocess,togetherwithapoliticalcultureandabroaderdomainofpersonalfreedomassociatedwiththat
process,democracytendstoprovideamoreextensivedomainofpersonalfreedomthananyotherkindofregimecanpromise.

FreedomofSelfDetermination

However,democracyisuniquelyrelatedtofreedominstillanotherway:Itexpandstomaximumfeasiblelimitstheopportunityforpersonstoliveunderlawsoftheir
ownchoosing.Theessenceoftheargumentmightbesummarizedasfollows:Togovernoneself,toobeylawsthatonehaschosenforoneself,tobeselfdetermining,
isadesirableend.Yethumanbeingscannotattainthisendbylivinginisolation.Toenjoysatisfactorylives,theymustliveinassociationwithothers.Buttolivein
associationwithothersnecessarilyrequiresthattheymustsometimesobeycollectivedecisionsthatarebindingonallmembersoftheassociation.Theproblem,then,is
todiscoverawaybywhichthemembersofanassociationmaymakedecisionsbindingonallandstillgovernthemselves.Becausedemocracymaximizesthe
opportunitiesforselfdeterminationamongthemembersofanassociation,itisthebestsolution.

ThemostcelebratedexpositionofthisargumentistobefoundintheSocialContractindeedinthatworkRousseauexplicitlysetoutto"findaformofassociation
thatdefendsandprotectsthepersonandgoodsofeachassociatewithallthecommonforce,andbymeansofwhicheachone,unitingwithall,neverthelessobeysonly
himselfandremainsasfreeasbefore"(Rousseau[1762],1978,bk.1,chap.6,p.53).

Thejustificationfordemocracyasmaximizingthefreedomofselfdeterminationhasalsobeenendorsedbyallthose,fromLockeonward,whohavebelievedthat
governmentsoughttobebasedontheconsentofthegoverned.Fornootherformofgovernmentcangosofar,atleastinprinciple,toensurethatthestructureand
processesofgovernmentitselfandthelawsitenactsandenforcesdependinasignificantwayonthegenuineconsentofthegoverned.Forinademocracy,andonlyin
ademocracy,aredecisionsastotheconstitutionandlawsdecidedbyamajority.Bycontrastallthefeasiblealternativestodemocracywouldpermitaminorityto
decidethesevitalissues.

Thisclaimmightbe,andoftenhasbeen,contestedonthreegrounds.First,even



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ifdemocracyensuresinprinciplethatthesequestionswillbedecidedbyamajority,thelosingminoritywillnotnecessarilybegovernedbylawsofitsownchoosing.
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Whileamemberofamajoritymay"obeyonlyhimselfandremainsasfreeasbefore,"amemberoftheminoritymaybecompelledtoobeyalawimposedbyothers
themajorityandtothatextentislessfreethanthey.Rousseausoughttogetaroundthisdifficultybyproposingthattheoriginalsocialcompactwouldrequire
unanimousagreement,but"exceptforthisprimitivecontract,thevoteofthemajorityalwaysobligatesalltheothers"(bk.4,chap.3,p.110).Hisargument,however,
istooweakandundevelopedtobeconvincing.Unfortunately,Rousseauisnotalone,forthejustificationofmajorityrulehasremainedaperplexingproblem,oneI
shallturntoinchapter10.Butthatproblemneednotdetainushere,foriftheonlynondemocraticalternativestomajorityruleallpresupposesomeformofminority
rule,thentheclaimthatdemocracywillmaximizetheopportunitiesforfreedombyselfdeterminationisstillvalid,sinceunderanynondemocraticalternativethenumber
ofmembersenjoyingthefreedomofgoverningthemselveswouldnecessarilybesmallerthaninademocracy.

However,thisrestatementoftheclaimnowleavesitopentoasecondobjection:Ifapoliticalassociationbasedonmajorityruleextendsthefreedomofself
determinationmorebroadlythanonebasedongovernmentbyaminority,thenthelargerthemajorityrequired,themorebroadlythefreedomofselfdetermination
wouldbeextended.Inprinciple,then,unanimitywouldbethebestprincipleofall.Inthisview,theunanimityprinciple,whichRousseau(likeLocke)restrictedtoa
mythical"originalcontract,"wouldbesuperiortothemajorityprincipleforadoptingnotonlytheoriginalcompactbutalsoforallsubsequentlaws.Sinceaunanimity
requirementwouldensurethatnolawcouldbeenactedwithouttheassentofeverymember,onemightsupposethatitwouldalsoensurefreedomofselfdetermination
toeverymember.Unfortunatelyforthishappyresult,however,theunanimityprinciplehasitsowngravedisadvantages,whichwillbeexploredinlaterchapters,where
itwillbeseenthatunanimityisneitherfeasiblenordesirableasageneralruleforcollectivedecisions.Butwedonotneedtoanticipatethatdiscussionhere.Forwe
needonlynotethatifunanimitywereadesirableandfeasibledecisionruleforthedemocraticprocess,thenthejustificationfordemocracyasmaximizingfreedom
throughselfdeterminationwouldnotbeinanywayvitiated:democracywouldthenmaximizefreedomthroughunanimityratherthanthroughthemajorityprinciple.

Yetathirdobjectionstillremains:Whenwepostulateademocraticpoliticalsociety,whethergovernedaccordingtothemajorityprincipleortheunanimityprinciple,
weevidentlyhaveinmindanidealsystem.ButasIhavesaid,actuallyexistingpoliticalsystems,includingdemocraticsystems,donotmeasureuptotheirideals.Andit
issometimesarguedthatactual"democracies"fallsofarshortoftheidealthatinpracticeminoritiesruleovermajoritiesandthevauntedfreedomofselfdetermination
proclaimedasanidealiseffectivelydeniedtoamajorityofpeople.Thedefectsofactual"democracies"asmeasuredagainsttheidealaresowellknownandso
seriousthatonecannotsimplyrejectcriticismslikethisasimplausible.Atthesametime,however,thetaskofappraisingactual"de



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mocracies"isenormouslydifficult,whetherwecomparethemagainstnondemocraticregimesortheirownidealstandards.Thistaskawaitslaterchapters.Yetmost
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criticswhoraisetheobjectionIhavejustdescribedwouldprobablycontendthatwhatiswrongwithactual"democracies"isthefactthattheyfailtomeetdemocratic
standards.Obviouslyanobjectionalongtheselinesneednotdeny,andprobablyisnotordinarilyintendedtodeny,thatifdemocracyweretomeetitsownstandards,
itwouldexpandthefreedomofselfdeterminationmorebroadlythananyfeasiblealternativetoit.

MoralAutonomy

Onemightagreetoallthathasbeensaidsofarandyetobjecttotheimplicitassumptionthatthefreedomtogovernoneselfunderlawsofone'sownchoosingisa
desirablegoal.Probablyfewcriticswouldactuallychallengetheassumption,andmostwouldtakeitforgranted.Yetthequestionneedsasking:Whyisthisformof
freedomdesirable?

Animportantpartoftheansweristobefoundintheotherjustificationsfordemocracythatweareabouttoexplore.Toliveunderlawsofone'sownchoosing,and
thustoparticipateintheprocessofchoosingthoselaws,facilitatesthepersonaldevelopmentofcitizensasmoralandsocialbeingsandenablescitizenstoprotectand
advancetheirmostfundamentalrights,interests,andconcerns.

Thereis,however,adeeperreasonforvaluingthefreedomtogovernoneself,areasonhavinglesstodothanthesewithitsusefulnessasaninstrumenttootherends.
Thisisthevalueofmoralautonomyitself.ByamorallyautonomouspersonImeanonewhodecidesonhismoralprinciples,andthedecisionsthatsignificantlydepend
onthem,followingaprocessofreflection,deliberation,scrutiny,andconsideration.Tobemorallyautonomousistobeselfgoverninginthedomainofmorallyrelevant
choices(cf.Kuflik,1984,272).

Thisishardlytheplacetodiscussthedisputesoverthemeaningofmoralautonomy.10NorshallIsaymuchaboutthereasonswhymoralautonomyshouldbe
respected.11Intheend,Ibelieve,thereasonsforrespectingmoralautonomysiftdowntoone'sbeliefthatitisaqualitywithoutwhichhumanbeingsceasetobefully
humanandinthetotalabsenceofwhichtheywouldnotbehumanatall.12Inshort,ifitisdesirablethathumanbeingsbemoralbeings,asIfeelcertainnoreaderof
thisbookwilldeny,thentheirmoralautonomymustberespected.

Tolimitone'sopportunitytoliveunderthelawsofone'sownchoosingistolimitthescopeofmoralautonomy.Becausethedemocraticprocessmaximizesthefeasible
scopeofselfdeterminationforthosewhoaresubjecttocollectivedecisions,soitalsomaximallyrespectsthemoralautonomyofallwhoaresubjecttoitslaws.

DemocracyAsInstrumentaltoHumanDevelopment

ThatthecharacterofaregimeandthequalitiesofitspeoplearesomehowrelatedhasbeenacommonplaceofpoliticalphilosophysincetheGreeks.Inhis



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ConsiderationsonRepresentativeGovernment,JohnStuartMillechoedthisancientview:
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Thefirstelementofgoodgovernment...beingthevirtueandintelligenceofthehumanbeingscomposingthecommunity,themostimportantpointofexcellencewhichanyform
ofgovernmentcanpossessistopromotethevirtueandintelligenceofthepeoplethemselves.Thefirstquestioninrespecttoanypoliticalinstitutionsishowfartheytendto
fosterinthemembersofthecommunitythevariousdesirablequalities,moralandintellectual.(Mill[1861]1958,25)

Buttherehasnotbeenmuchagreementastotheprecisenatureoftherelationbetweenregimesandhumancharacter,oreventhedirectionofcausation.Nonetheless,
ithasbeenarguedonbehalfofdemocracythatittendsmorethanotherregimestoenhancecertaindesirablequalitiesamongitscitizens.

InMill'sview,byprovidingopportunitiesforalltoparticipateactivelyinpoliticallife,democracyfosters,asnootherkindofregimecan,qualitiesofindependence,
selfreliance,andpublicspiritedness(5355).Theargumentthatpoliticalparticipationfostersdesirablepersonalandsocialqualitiesindemocraticcitizenshasoften
beenadvancedsinceMill'stime,particularlybyadvocatesofparticipatorydemocracy(cf.Pateman1970,43Barber1984,153).

Althoughattractiveandplausible,asajustificationfordemocracytheargumentsuffersfromagravedifficulty:Itdependsentirelyonwhatisafterallanempirical
hypothesisassertingarelationbetweenthecharacteristicsofaregimeandthequalitiesofitspeople.Todeterminetherelationbetweenregimeandpersonalqualitiesis
aformidabletask,andmodernsocialscientistshavesofarmadelittleadvanceoverthespeculationsandconjecturesofPlato,Machiavelli,andMill.Althoughmodern
theoristshavesometimesproposedthata"democraticpersonality"iseithernecessaryto,orisproducedby,democraticinstitutions,attemptstodefinethedistinctive
qualitiesofademocraticpersonalityandtoverifyitsrelationtodemocraticregimesorpracticeshavenotmetwithmuchsuccess.Forexample,theconjecturethat
politicalparticipationtendstocreateastrongersenseofselfworth,greatertolerance,andmorepublicspiritednessisonlyweaklysupportedbysystematic
investigation,ifatall(Sniderman1975).Themethodologicalobstaclestoverifyingthehypothesisaresogreatastomakethisconjectureatbestaweakandvulnerable
justificationfordemocracynotonecertainlythatwouldcarrymuchweightstandingalone.

However,ifweconsiderthepreviousjustificationsfordemocracy,wecanlookatthequestioninadifferentway.Supposewebelieveadultpersonsshouldpossess
thesequalities,amongothers:Theyshouldpossessthecapacityforlookingafterthemselves,inthesenseofbeingabletotakecareoftheirinterests.Theyshouldsofar
aspossiblebemorallyautonomous,particularlyondecisionsofgreatimportancetothemselvesandothers.Theyshouldactresponsibly,inthesenseofweighing
alternativecoursesofactionasbesttheycan,consideringtheirconsequences,andtakingintoaccounttherightsandobligationsofoneselfandothers.Andtheyshould
becapableofengaginginfreeandopendiscussionwithothersinordertoarriveatmoraljudgments.Bothcasualandsystematicobservationpro



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videgoodgroundsforbelievingthatmany,perhapsmost,humanbeingsatbirthpossessthepotentialityfordevelopingthesequalitiesandthattheextenttowhichthey
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actuallydevelopthemdependsprimarilyonthecircumstancesintowhichtheyarebornandinwhichtheirdevelopmentorlackofittakesplace.

Amongthesecircumstancesisthenatureofthepoliticalregimeinwhichapersonlives.Andonlydemocraticregimescanprovidetheconditionsunderwhichthe
qualitiesIhavementionedarelikelytodevelopfully.Forallotherregimesreduce,oftendrastically,thescopewithinwhichadultscanacttoprotecttheirowninterests
(muchlesstheinterestsofothers),exerciseselfdetermination,takeresponsibilityforimportantdecisions,andengagefreelywithothersinasearchforthebest
decision.Becausetheexistenceofademocraticprocessingoverningthestatecanhardlybeasufficientconditionforthesequalitiestodevelop,andbecauseinany
caseactualregimesareneverbyanymeansfullydemocratic,themethodologicalobstaclestoempiricalverificationremain.ButifthequalitiesIhavedescribedare
desirable,thenitseemsreasonabletoholdthat,inorderforthemtodevelopamongalargeproportionofapeople,itisnecessaryifnotsufficientthatthepeople
governthemselvesdemocratically.

DemocracyAsInstrumentaltotheProtectionofPersonalInterests

Perhapsthemostcommonjustificationgivenfordemocracyisthatitisessentialtotheprotectionofthegeneralinterestsofthepersonswhoaresubjecttothe
regulationsoractionsoftheofficialsofastate.Whiletheseincludefreedomandpersonaldevelopment,theyalsoextendtoabroadarrayofdesires,wants,practices,
andrightsthatpeopleinaspecificsocietyandhistoricalsituationmaybelievetobeimportant.

InhisConsiderationsonRepresentativeGovernment,Millpresentedthefollowingargument:

1.Aprinciple"ofasuniversaltruthandapplicabilityasanygeneralpropositionswhichcanbelaiddownrespectinghumanaffairs...isthattherightsandinterestsof
everyoranypersonareonlysecurefrombeingdisregardedwhenthepersonishimselfable,andhabituallydisposed,tostandupforthem....Humanbeingsareonly
securefromevilatthehandsofothersinproportionastheyhavethepowerofbeing,andare,selfprotecting."

2.Peoplecanprotecttheirrightsandinterestsfromabusebygovernment,andbythosewhoinfluenceorcontrolgovernment,onlyiftheycanparticipatefullyin
determiningtheconductofthegovernment.13

3.Therefore,"nothinglesscanbeultimatelydesirablethantheadmissionofalltoashareinthesovereignpowerofthestate,"thatis,ademocraticgovernment.

4."Butsinceallcannot,inacommunityexceedingasinglesmalltown,participateinanybutsomeveryminorportionsofthepublicbusiness,itfollowsthattheideal
typeofperfectgovernmentmustberepresentative"(Mill[1861]1958,43,55).



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ThoughMill'sutilitarianassumptionsareconspicuouslyabsentfromhisdefenseofrepresentativegovernment,andthoughhehadcometorejectthesimple
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identificationofhappinesswithpleasureespousedbyhisfatherandBentham,hecontinuedtobelievethathappinesswasthesupremegood.Consequently,hewould
havebeenobligedtosay,Ipresume,thattheprotectionofone'srightsandinterestsisdesirablebecausetheserightscaninterestsareinstrumentaltoone'shappiness.
Mill'sargument,however,doesnotstrictlyrequirethisassumption,andoneneednotbeautilitarianinordertoacceptit.Forexample,onemightsimplycontendthat
eveniftheprotectionofone'srightsandinterestsisnotnecessarilyconducivetoone'shappiness,itismorallyproperthataperson'sfundamentalrightsandinterests
shouldbeprotected.Itisimportanttokeepinmind,then,thatthevalidityofMill'sargumentanditsimplicitpremisedonotnecessarilydependonthevalidityofany
formofutilitarianism.

ItisnonethelesstruethatclassicalutilitarianslikeBenthamandJamesMill,aswellasinnumerablesuccessors,havejustifieddemocracyonthegroundthatsatisfying
one'swantsisconducivetoone'shappinessandthatdemocracyisdesirablebecause,andinsofaras,itisapoliticalprocessbymeansofwhichpeoplemaybest
satisfytheirwants.ThegeneralformoftheirargumentisexactlylikeMill's,exceptthatthisspeciesofutilitarianismspeaksofwantswhereMillspeaksofrightsand
interests.

Widespreadthoughitmaybe,theattempttojustifydemocracyasinstrumentaltosatisfyingwantshasbeenattackedbysomedemocratictheorists.JohnPlamenatz
argued,forexample,thatthereis"nogoodreasonforbelievingthat,themoresuccessfulIaminmaximizingthesatisfactionofmywantswithinthelimitsinwhich
successispossible,themorehappyIamlikelytobe."Moreover,wecannotcomparegovernmentsand,asareasonableempiricaljudgment,concludethat"the
policiesofonehaveingeneraldonemorethanthoseoftheothertoenabletheirsubjectstomaximizethesatisfactionoftheirwants,"particularlyifthegovernmentsare
notofthesametypeandthevaluesandbeliefsofthepeopleconcerneddiffergreatly.Finally,peopledonotandshouldnotpreferdemocracytoitsalternatives
becausetheybelieveitisbetteratmaximizingthesatisfactionoftheirwants."Neitheritschampionsnoritscriticsareconcernedwithmaximizingthesatisfactionof
wantsortheachievementofgoals.Theyfavoritbecauseitgivesmencertainrightsandopportunitiesortheyrejectitbecauseitdoesnot.Buttheserightsand
opportunitiesarenotvaluedbecausetheymakeiteasierforpeopletomaximizethesatisfactionoftheirwants"(Plamenatz1973,163,164,168).14

Nowitisonethingtosaythatdemocracycannotbejustifiedonthegroundthatitmaximizeswantsatisfactionanditisquiteanothertoinsistthatdemocracyhas
nothingtodowithwhatpeoplewant.Tobeginwith,oneneednotacceptthesimplepsychologyofclassicalutilitarianisminordertobelievethatone'shappinessisto
someextentdependentonsatisfyingone'swants,orsomeofthem.Icannotconceivehowpeoplecouldbehappyifnoneoftheirwantswereeversatisfied.Inthe
sameway,itishardtoseewhypeoplewouldvalueagovernmentthatneverdidwhattheywantedittodo.If,asPlamenatzcontended,peoplevalue



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democracybecauseoftherightsandopportunitiesitprovides,thentheymustwanttheirgovernmenttoprovide,protect,andenforcetheserightsandopportunities.If,
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intheirview,democracydidnotsatisfythesewantsbetterthananyfeasiblealternativetoit,theninsofarastheywererationaltheywouldpreferthealternative.

Tospeakofpeoplewantingtheirgovernmenttodocertainthingsandtoavoiddoingothersisnodoubtalongwayfrom"maximizingthesatisfactionofwants."A's
wantingtosatisfyhisdesireforahamburgeriscertainlynotequivalenttoA'swantingthegovernmenttomaximizehisopportunitiestoeathamburgers.Probablyno
sanepersonwouldexpectagovernmenttosatisfy,ortrytosatisfy,allhiswants.Whatpeoplewantagovernmenttodoortorefrainfromdoingisaspecialsubset,
andformanypeopleasmallsubset,oftheirwants.Thissubsetcannonethelessbehighlyimportant.Forexample,itcanincludewhatMillreferredtoasone'srights
andinterestsandPlamenatzasone'srightsandopportunities.Toavoidconfusingthisspecialbutoftenimportantsubsetwiththemultiplicityof"wants"peoplemay
wishtosatisfy,letmecallthese"urgentpoliticalconcerns."

Amorereasonablejustificationfordemocracy,then,isthat,toasubstantiallygreaterdegreethananyalternativetoit,ademocraticgovernmentprovidesanorderly
andpeacefulprocessbymeansofwhichamajorityofcitizenscaninducethegovernmenttodowhattheymostwantittodoandtoavoiddoingwhattheymostwantit
nottodo.15Insteadofaclaimthatdemocraticgovernmentsrespondbymaximizingthesatisfactionofwants,wemightclaiminsteadthattheytendtosatisfyaminimal
setofurgentpoliticalconcerns.Nowitmaywellbethatasapracticalmatterwecannotdeterminewhetherthisjustificationisvalidbyrigorouslycomparingthe
performancesofdemocraticandnondemocraticgovernmentswithevidenceshowingwhatcitizenswanttheirgovernmentstodoornotdo.Wemightneverthelessbe
abletoarriveatareasonablejudgmentbycomparingtheopportunitiesthatthedemocraticprocess(bothinidealformandinactuality)providesamajorityofcitizens
forinfluencingthegovernmenttoattempttosatisfytheirurgentpoliticalconcernswiththeopportunitiesthatanondemocraticgovernment,bothinidealformandin
actuality,wouldprovide.Andonthebasisofsuchacomparison,wewoulddecidewhethertheclaimisjustified.

Thisisasubstantialundertaking.Amongotherthings,wewouldneedtospecifytheinstitutionsthat,inpractice,thedemocraticprocessrequires.Thesetasksawait
laterchapters.MeanwhilePlamenatz'scriticismsdonotseemtometowarrantourrejectingeitherMill'sargumentorthebeliefthatdemocraticgovernmentsprovide
citizenswithbetteropportunitiesforsatisfyingtheirurgentpoliticalconcernsthananyfeasiblealternativestothem.

<><><><><><><><><><><><>

IsuggestedearlierthattheIdeaofIntrinsicEqualityissubjecttotwoweaknesses:First,becauseitdoesnotspecifywhataretobecountedashumaninterestsor
goods,thelimitsitsetsoninequalitiesareextremelylooseandvague.Thusitisnotbyitselfsufficienttoupholdaclaimtopoliticalequalityofthekindrequiredfor



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democracy.Theprinciplebecomesmorespecific,andmorecloselyrelatedtothedemocraticprocess,whenweinterprethumanintereststoincludeclaimsto
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maximumfeasiblefreedom,personaldevelopment,andopportunitiestosatisfyurgentpoliticalconcernsmoregenerally.

Eventhesegoods,however,donotmaketheprincipleselfinterpreting.Whothenshoulddeterminemorespecificallywhatgoodsorinterestsoughttobegiven
priority?Inshort,whoshouldrule?Mightnotonereasonablyargue,asPlatodidinTheRepublic,thatonlyahighlyqualifiedminorityofexpertsonsuchmattersis
trulyqualifiedtomakethesedecisionsandthustorule?Indeed,thequestionmaybeaskedevenwithina"democratic"system.Wouldwewanttocallasystema
"democracy"ifthesizeofthedemosisgreatlyexceededbythenumberofadultswhoareexcludedfromthedemos?Athens,aswesawinchapter1,wasjustsucha
system,andtheAthenians,whoafterallinventedtheterm,calledAthensademocracy.Andforalltheirlanguageofuniversalism,Locke,Rousseau,andJefferson,like
AristotleearlierandMilllater,shrankfromacceptinguniversalinclusioninpractice.Forintheirjudgmentsthenumberofpersonsqualifiedtoparticipateinpoliticallife
wereinmanyspecificinstancesfewerthanthosewhomightproperlybecompelledtoobeythelaws.

Thattheycouldbelieveinpopulargovernmentandyetbelievethat"thepeople"oughtnottoincludeallthepeopledoesnotdemonstratethattheywerenecessarily
inconsistentorhypocritical.ItrevealsinsteadanincompletenessintheIdeaofIntrinsicEqualityasajustificationfordemocracy.



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Chapter7
PersonalAutonomy
Democracyrulebythepeoplecanbejustifiedonlyontheassumptionthatordinarypeopleare,ingeneral,qualifiedtogovernthemselves.Foritseemsself
evidentthatpeopleoughtnottogovernthemselvesiftheyarenotqualifiedtodoso.Afterall,becausewebelievethatchildrenarenotqualifiedtogovernthemselves
weinsistthattheybegovernedbyotherswho,wepresume,aremorequalifiedtodoso.Yettheassumptionthatpeopleingeneralordinarypeopleareadequately
qualifiedtogovernthemselvesis,onthefaceofit,suchanextravagantclaimthatcriticsofdemocracyhaverejectediteversincethephilosophicalideaandpracticeof
democracyappearedamongtheGreeksovertwothousandyearsago.

AStrongPrincipleofEquality

TheassumptionthatasubstantialportionofadultsareadequatelyqualifiedtogovernthemselvesmightbecalledaStrongPrincipleofEquality(todistinguishit,for
example,fromtheweakerprincipleexpressedintheIdeaofIntrinsicEquality).Wemightalsorefertoitasanassumptionofroughlyequalqualification,andIshall
useeitherexpressionasseemsappropriate.

Anassumptionofroughlyequalqualificationimmediatelysuggeststhreequestions:Whatdoesitmean?Howcanitbejustifiedasreasonable?Towhatpersonsshould
itapply?

TheStrongPrinciple:APreliminaryInterpretation

Letmeofferapreliminaryinterpretation,subjecttomodificationlateron.Tobeginwith,itisimportanttonotethattheprinciplemightbemeanttoapplyonlytoa
particulargroup,suchasallcitizensofAthens.Butsincetheseventeenthcenturyassertionsalongtheselineshaveoftenbeencastinauniversalform,asin



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thefamousdeclarationthatallmenarecreatedequal.Andtodaywewouldwanttointerpret''allmen"asincludingallwomen,eventhoughtheauthorsoftherenowned
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phrasedidnot.

Letusimagine,aswedidearlier,thatsomehumanassociation,concreteorhypothetical,hasaneedforcollectivedecisionsbindingonallmembersoftheassociation.
Whichmembersoftheassociationarequalifiedtoparticipateinmakingthesecollectivedecisions,andunderwhatconditions?Supposewecouldprovisionallyagree
onthefollowingassumption:

Allmembersaresufficientlywellqualified,takenallaround,toparticipateinmakingthecollectivedecisionsbindingontheassociationthatsignificantly
affecttheirgoodorinterests.Inanycase,nonearesodefinitelybetterqualifiedthantheothersthattheyshouldbeentrustedwithmakingthecollective
andbindingdecisions.

Noticethattheassumptionconsistsoftwosentencesthatarenotstrictlyequivalentpropositions.Thefirstassertsthatallthemembersmeetanacceptablestandardof
competence.Theseconddeniesthatanymemberspossesssuchextraordinaryqualificationsthattheyaloneshouldrule.Thefirstimpliesahypotheticallowerlimit,a
minimumlevelofcompetence,thatallmembersreach,thesecondahypotheticalupperlimit,amaximumlevelofcompetence,thatnomembersreach.1

Thesetofpersonstowhomsuchaprinciplemaybeappliedcouldbecalledthedemos,thepopulus,orthecitizenbody.Itsmembersarefullcitizens.(Forbrevity,I
shallordinarilyrefertothemsimplyascitizens.)Wehaveprovisionallyassumedthatthedemosincludesallthemembersoftheassociation,thatis,everymemberis
alsoafullcitizen.Butitispossiblethatsomememberswhoareobligedtoobeytherulesoftheassociationareneverthelessexcludedfromthedemosandthereforeare
notfullcitizens.Childrenareanobviousexample.

IfweweretodenythattheStrongPrincipleofEqualitycouldproperlybeappliedtoallthemembersofanassociation,itwouldbeextremelydifficult,andperhaps
impossible,tomakeareasonableargumentthatallthemembersoftheassociationoughttobefullcitizens,thatis,entitledtoparticipatefullyingoverningthe
association.Forif,aswithchildren,somepersonsaredefinitelynotadequatelyqualifiedtogovern,whileothersare,thenshouldnotthesemorequalifiedmembers,
evenifaminority,governtherest?Conversely,however,iftheStrongPrincipledoesproperlyapplytoallmembers,thenonwhatgroundscouldonereasonablydeny
thatallthemembersshouldparticipate,asequals,ingoverningthemselves?

ArationalbeliefindemocracythuspresupposesthatStrongEqualityexistsamong(full)citizens.Butwhoshouldbecitizens,thatis,amongwhomdoesStrongEquality
exist?Weseemtofindourselvestrappedinacircle:StrongEqualityexistsamongcitizensbecausethosemembersofanassociationamongwhomStrongEquality
existsare(orshouldbe)citizens.Howarewetobreakoutofthiscircle?HowshouldwedecideontherangeofStrongEquality?Depending



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ontheanswer,democracycouldbeuniversallyinclusiveorasnarrowlyexclusiveastheRepublicofVenice,inwhichlessthantwothousandmalemembersofthe
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VenetianaristocracywereentitledtogovernovertheseveralhundredthousandresidentsofVenice.Andwhatoftheinterestsoftheexcluded?Aretheytobecared
forequallywiththeinterestsofthecitizens?Ifso,whyandhow?Evidentlythemoralvalueofdemocracy,andthusmuchofitsjustification,willvaryaccordingtoits
inclusiveness.

Althoughstronginimplicationswithinitsrange,then,theStrongPrincipleisweakinimplicationsoutsideitsrange.TheimportoftheStrongPrinciple,itseems,cannot
beseparatedfromitsrange:unlesstherangeisspecifiedwearehardputtojudgeitssignificance.Atthesametime,ourwillingnesstoaccepttheprinciplewilldepend
onitsrange.Extendtherangefarenoughtoincludeinfants,forexampleandprobablynoonewillacceptit.Yetonewhorejectsarangeastooinclusivewould
probablyacceptsomeversionofanarrowerrange.Forexample,amemberoftheVenetiannobilitywoulddoubtlesshaveexcludedmostadultresidentsofthe
RepublicfromtherangeoftheStrongPrinciplepresumably,however,hewouldhaveassumedthattheStrongPrinciplewasperfectlyapplicabletothemalemembers
ofthearistocracy.Thusthevalidityoftheprincipleandthevalueweattributetoitbothseemtodependonitsrange.Whatweneedthenissomereasonablewayof
determiningsimultaneouslywhethertheprincipleisjustifiedandwhatitsrangeis.

Ibelievethattwopropositions,takentogether,willhelptosolvethisproblem.Bothareassumptionsofthetheoryofthedemocraticprocessthatwillbedescribedin
chapter8.OneoftheseisthePrincipleofEqualConsiderationdiscussedinthelastchapter.Aswesaw,however,thatprinciple,likethegeneralideaofintrinsic
equality,isweakinitsimplications:byitself,itcouldasreadilyjustifyguardianshipasdemocracy.

AlthoughtheIdeaofIntrinsicEquality,standingalone,istooweaktosupporttheStrongPrincipleofEquality,astoutfoundationcanbeconstructedbyjoiningitwitha
secondassumptionthathasbeenacornerstoneofdemocraticbeliefs(asithasalsobeenofliberalthought).Thisistheassumptionthatnopersonis,ingeneral,more
likelythanyourselftobeabetterjudgeofyourowngoodorinterestortoacttobringitabout.Consequently,youshouldhavetherighttojudgewhetherapolicyis,or
isnot,inyourbestinterest.Theassumptionis,further,thatwhatholdsforyouholds,generallyspeaking,forotheradults.Bya"policy"Imeanadecisiontoadopt
certainmeanstobringaboutcertainresults.2 Onthisassumption,then,nooneelseismorequalifiedthanyoutojudgewhethertheresultsareinyourinterestboth
theresultsexpectedfromadecisionbeforeitistakenandtheactualresultsfollowingthedecision.Youmaychoosetodelegatethechoiceofmeanstothoseyou
judgetobemorequalifiedthanyourselftoselectthemostappropriatemeans.3 Butyoucouldnot,withoutactingcontrarytotheassumption,yieldyourrighttojudge
whethertheresults(intendedandactual)wereinyourinterests.IamgoingtocallthisthePresumptionofPersonalAutonomy.



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ThePresumptionofPersonalAutonomy

ItismucheasiertointerpretthePresumptionofPersonalAutonomyforindividualdecisionsthanforcollectivedecisions.Ifweassumethatundersomeconditionsa
collectivedecisionmayproperlybemadebindingonthosewhodisagreewiththeexpectedoutcomebecausetheybelievethatitwillbeharmfultotheirinterests,then
anindividual'sfinalchoicecannotbedecisive,asitcanbewithindividualdecisions.Suchisoftenthecase,forexample,whenbindingcollectivedecisionsaremadeby
majorityrule:thoughthemembersofthelosingminoritymayfeelthattheoutcomeisharmfultotheirinterests,theymaynonethelessberequiredtocomplyandindeed
mayevenbelievestonglythat,havinglostthevote,itisrightthattheyberequiredtocomply.

Theimplicationsofpersonalautonomyforcollectivedecisionsbecomeclearerifweassumethevalidityofintrinsicequalityandwhatitimpliesfortheequal
considerationofinterests.Ifinmakingcollectivedecisionstheinterestsofeachpersonoughttobeweighedequallywiththeinterestsofeveryother,whoistosaywhat
theinterestsofeachare?ByadoptingthePresumptionofPersonalAutonomy,weagreethateachadultpersonwhoseinterestsareinvolvedintheoutcomeoughtto
havetherighttospecifywhatthoseinterestsare.AsIindicatedinthelastchapter,ifAholdsthatherinterestisbestservedbypolicyxratherthanpolicyy,then
insofarastherulesandproceduresareintendedtotakeA'sinterestequallyintoaccount,alongwithB's,C's,andothers',thenwhatiscountedasA'sinterestiswhat
AnotB,C,oranyothersaysareA'sinterests.

Toaccepttheideaofpersonalautonomyamongadults,then,istoestablishapresumptionthatinmakingindividualorcollectivedecisionseachadultoughttobe
treatedforpurposesofmakingdecisionsastheproperjudgeofhisorherowninterests.Intheabsenceofaverycompellingshowingofincompetence,then,the
presumptionisassumedtobebinding.Inshort:

THEPRESUMPTIONOFPERSONALAUTONOMY:Intheabsenceofacompellingshowingtothecontraryeveryoneshouldbeassumedtobethebestjudgeofhisorher
owngoodorinterests.

Thepracticaleffectofthepresumptionistodenythatpaternalisticauthoritycaneverbelegitimateamongadults,ineitherindividualorcollectivedecisions,exceptfor
presumablyrareexceptions.Andconversely,alllegitimateauthorityrelationsinvolvingadultsmustbeconsistentwithinthatsense,mustrespectthepresumptionof
personalautonomy.

UnliketheIdeaofIntrinsicEqualityandthePrincipleofEqualConsiderationofInterests,whicharemoraljudgmentsaboutasunalloyedasweeverencounter,are
universalintheirrange,andsoadmitofnoexceptions,thePresumptionofPersonalAutonomycouldbestbedescribedasaruleofprudence.Itisnotan
epistemologicalprinciple:onecouldreasonablydenythatAisactinginherowninterestsandstillinsistthattherulebeupheldinA'scase.Becauseaprudentialruleisa
mixofmoralandempiricaljudgmentsitdisplaystheinherentmessinessofacontingentstatementthatisnotderivedrigorouslyfromaxiomsorempiricallaws.Insteada



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prudentialruledrawsuponaflawedandimpreciseunderstandingofhumanexperience.Itdisplaysalltheimperfectionsofcontingency.Itdoesnotlaydownan
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absolutelyinviolablerightorduty,orpurporttosaywhatdefinitelywillhappen,orestimatepreciselywhatismostlikelytohappen.Itadmitsofexceptions.Butitdoes
telluswheretheburdenofproofmustliewhenaclaimismadeforanexception,thatis,forreplacingpersonalautonomybyapaternalisticauthority.

Evenamongadultspersonalautonomyhassometimesbeenwidelyreplacedbypaternalisticauthority.Intherelationofmastertoslave,paternalisticauthoritywasthe
generalrule.Anduntilquiterecentlyhalfofalladultswerelegallysubjecttopaternalismongroundswidelythought,andnotmerelybytheotherhalf,tobealmostself
evident:thatwomenwerenotcompetenttomakedecisionsforthemselves.Today,however,childrenaretheonlylargegroupofpeoplesubjecttocomprehensive
paternalisticauthoritythustheyconstitutetheonlymajorexceptiontothePresumptionofPersonalAutonomy.Forchildren,parentsarethenormalauthorities,though
inspecialcasespaternalisticauthorityoverachildmaybeawardedtootheradults.Foradults,ontheotherhand,paternalisticauthoritywithrespecttoindividual
decisionsisthoughttobejustifiedinonlyasmallpercentageofexceptionalcasespersonssoseverelyhandicappedbecauseofbirthdefects,braindamage,acute
psychosis,senility,andsoonthattheyarejudgedincapableofmakingtheelementarydecisionsrequiredfortheirownsurvivalorminimalwellbeing.Eveninthese
cases,theburdenofproofisalwayslegallyplacedonthosewhoproposetoreplacepersonalautonomybypaternalism.

Butwhyshouldweacceptthepresumption?Woulditbejustasreasonabletorejectit?Torejectitasapresumptionforindividualandcollectivedecisions,however,
wewouldhavetobelievenotonlythat(1)somesubstantialproportionofadultsarequiteunabletounderstand,orarenotsufficientlymotivatedtoseek,theirmost
fundamentalinterests,butalsothat(2)aclassofpaternalisticauthoritiescouldbecountedontodosointheirbehalf.Anargumentalongtheselinesissubjecttotwo
gravedefects.First,inapprehendingthegoodorinterestsoftheself,everyothertendstobeatadisadvantage.Second,humanexperienceprovidesstrongreasonsfor
rejectingthesecondproposition.

TheDisadvantagedPositionoftheOther

Inexaminingthecaseforguardianshipwesawthatinordertojustifyaclaimthatsomeotherperson(orgroupofpersons)possessesbetterknowledgethantheself
yourself,forexampleoftheself'sowngoodorinterestswouldrequireaconvincingaccountofwhatthisknowledgeconsistsofandwhytheother'sknowledgeis
superiortotheknowledgepossessedbytheself.Wealsosawthatasatisfactorydefenseofsuchaclaimwouldrequireananswertooneofthemostdifficultand
contentiousintellectualproblemsofourtimes:whethermoraljudgmentscanbeintellectuallyjustified,and,ifso,how.

Fortunately,however,thejustificationfordemocracydoesnotdepend,inmyview,onaspecificanswertotheintractableepistemologicalandontologicalquestions
aboutthenatureofmoraljudgments.Whileitisillusorytothinkthata



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satisfactorydemonstrationofthegeneralsuperiorityofdemocracytoitsalternativescaneverconsistofastraightforwardaxiomaticalargumentfromunimpeachable
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premisestoan"absolute"and"objectivelyvalid"conclusion,itisequallymistaken,andevenmoreabsurd,toinsistthatallargumentswithamoralflavorareequally
arbitraryandthereforeequallyreasonableorunreasonable.Myaimistoshowwhyitismuchmorereasonabletobelieveindemocracythaninanyalternativetoit.

Tobesure,specificcasesmaysometimesrequiredifficult,complex,andhighlydebatablejudgmentsbutthatisalwayssoinmattersinvolvingimportantmoralissues,
particularlyifthesearemixedwithempiricaluncertainties.Eventhen,thequalityofone'sjudgmentsdependsonone'sunderstandingofthemoregeneralissuesat
stake.

Letmereturntothedisadvantagedpositionoftheother.InjudgingwhethersomecourseofactionorpolicyisinA'sinterests,eitherwemustknowsomethingabout
A'spreferences,wants,orneeds,orwemustpossessknowledgeofwhatisgoodforAindependentlyofA'sownpreferences,wants,orneeds"idealvalues"forA,
ifyouwill.Whenwearrangepreferences,wants,needs,andidealvaluesalongahypotheticalaxis,asignificantshiftoccursinthekindofknowledgerequired.Along
mostoftheaxistheselfisuniquelyprivilegedbecauseonlytheselfhasdirectaccesstoitsownawareness.ThemorethatknowledgeofA'sinterestsrequiresdirect
accesstoA'sawareness,themoreadvantageousisthepositionofAherself.IfweweretoassumethatA'sowninterestsaremostaccuratelyreflectedbyher
immediatepreferences,herclaimtoadequate,evensuperiorknowledgeofherinterestsisenormouslystrengthened.Likewise,thoughA'sexpressedpreferences
mightreflectamistakenviewofherdeeperormoreenduringwants,withrespecttoherwants,too,heruniqueaccesstoherownawarenessagainprovidesadefinite
advantage.Evenifweweretoholdthathumaninterestsconsistultimatelynotofpreferencesorwantsbutneeds,asasageneralmattertheselfisprobablyinabetter
positionthananyothertoknowtherelativeorderofurgencyamongitsvariousneeds.

Somepsychologistshavemaintainedthattheneedsofhumanbeingsformahierarchy,amoreorlessuniversal"objective"hierarchy.Butevenifthisweretrue(abyno
meansuncontroversialpresumption),itwouldallowustosayonlythatsomeofaperson'sneeds,say,forfood,havetobemetaboveacertainthresholdbeforeothers
takeonequalurgency.Butwhoisbestqualifiedtojudgewhenthatthresholdhasbeenreached?Thetheoryitselfmakessenseonlyonthepresumptionthattherelative
prioritiesworktheirwayintotheself'sawareness,whentheycanbereportedtoothersorinferredfromtheperson'sactions.Inspecificcases,theobservermight
perhapsmakeabetterguessaboutthethreshold,butifthatweregenerallysothenthewholeempiricalbasisofthetheorywouldbeundermined.Thuswhether
interestsarethoughttobeindicatedbyaperson'spreferences,wants,orneeds,theknowledgeoftheselfislikelytobesuperiortothatofanyotherpersonand
certainly,ingeneral,noworse.

UptonowIhavedeliberatelyusedtheterms"interest"and"good"asiftheywereinterchangeable.Suppose,however,thatitcouldbeshownthatthegoodofa



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personconsistsofanendoridealvaluethatisnotfullyindicatedbypreferences,wants,orneeds.Thentheuniqueaccessoftheselftoitsownawarenesswouldbe
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lessofanadvantage.Yettodemonstratethatanysuchassertionistrueappearstobeimpossible.Wearethereforeentitled,indeedobliged,tolookwiththegreatest
suspiciononanyclaimthatanotherpossessesobjectiveknowledgeofthegoodoftheselfthatisdefinitelysuperiortotheknowledgepossessedbytheself.

Anadditionalreasonfordoubtingthevalidityofanother'sclaimarisesifoneisconfronted,asoneattimesalmostcertainlywillbe,byconflictsbetweenseveralvalues,
suchasseekingone'sownhappinessorselfdevelopment,doingjusticetoone'sfamily,ordoingjusticetoothers.Evenifthesevalueconflictsarisewithinasingle,
coherentsystemofvalues,likeutilitarianism,theyrequirejudgmentsabouttradeoffsthatdependinturnondetailedknowledgeoftheparticularitiesoftheconcrete
case.Onceagain,theselfisprivilegedinitsaccesstotheparticularities,eventheuniqueness,oftheself.Butvalueconflictsmayalsoarisebecausedifferentsystemsof
valuecanandoftendospecifydifferentcoursesofactionandnohigherordersystemforadjudicatingtheseconflictsseemstoexist(Nagel1979,12934).Thusthe
claimofanothertosuperiorknowledgeofwhatisgoodformereflectsnothingmorethanaparticularvaluesystem,andnotatallwhatwouldbebestintheperspective
ofmyownsystemofvalues.

InterestsandHumanExperience

Notonlyareothersordinarilyatadisadvantageinunderstandingthegoodorinterestsoftheself.Theincentivesofotherstoseektheinterestsoftheselfaremuch
weakerthanthoseoftheself.Aswesawinthediscussionofguardianship,paternalisticauthoritiesneedbothknowledgeandvirtue.

Andastovirtue,therecordofhumanexperiencearguesdecisively,soitseemstome,againsttheviewthat,asageneralmatter,theprotectionandadvancementofthe
goodorinterestsofanysignificantproportionofadultscansafelybeentrustedtoothers.EarlierImentionedthetwohistoriccasesthatprovidethebulkofhuman
experiencewithcomprehensivepaternalism:slaveryandthelegalsubjectionofwomen.Dowehavetheslightestreasonforbelievingthatslavesandwomenwouldnot
haveprotectedtheirowninterestsatleastaswellastheirmastersandinalllikelihoodfarbetter?

Anotherexampleisprovidedbytheexclusionoftheworkingclassesfromthesuffrage.PerhapsnooneputthecasemoreconvincinglythanMill,for,perhaps
overgenerously,hedidnot
believethattheclasseswhodoparticipatein[thegovernment]haveingeneralanyintentionofsacrificingtheworkingclassestothemselves....YetdoesParliament,oralmost
anyofthememberscomposingit,everforaninstantlookatanyquestionwiththeeyesofaworkingman?Whenasubjectarisesinwhichthelaborersassuchhaveaninterest,is
itregardedfromanypointofviewbutthatofemployersoflabor?(Mill[1861]1958,44)

ConsiderationsliketheseledMilltoformulateaprinciplethatisessentially



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equivalenttothePresumptionofPersonalAutonomy.AsMillrightlysaw,theargumentfromhumanexperience,particularlyinthethreecrucialcasesofslavery,
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women,andworkingpeople,lendspowerfulsupporttotheconclusionthatbothindividualandcollectivedecisionsshouldrespectthePresumptionofPersonal
Autonomy.4

Tothesethreecaseswemaynowaddtwoothers.Although,asaresultoftheCivilWar,slaverywasabolishedintheUnitedStates,therightsofthefreedblacksto
participateinpoliticallifewereswiftlyannihilatedthroughouttheSouthduringtheReconstructionperiod.Asaresulttheliberatedslavesandtheirdescendants
continuedtoliveanotherfullcenturyinaconditionofpoliticalsubjectionandoppressionenforcedultimatelybyviolenceandterror.Notuntilthepassageandvigorous
enforcementofthecivilrightsactsofthe1960sweresouthernblacksatlastpermittedtotransformtheirnominalcitizenshipintofullpoliticalparticipation.Throughout
thislongperiodofpoliticalsubjection,manysouthernwhitessoughttojustifytheirrule"whitesupremacy"bythedoubleclaimthatblackswerenotcompetentto
participateinpoliticallifeandthatthey,thedefactowhiterulers,wouldinanycasefullyattendtotheessentialinterestsoftheblacks.Fewpeople,evensouthern
whites,wouldregardtheseclaimstodayasmorethanpreposterousrationalizationsforasystemofrulethatutterlyfailedtoprotecteventhemostelementaryinterests
ofmostsouthernblacks.

TheothercasehasbeenprovidedbySouthAfrica.IcannotimagineareasonabledefenseofthepropositionthatthewhiterulersoftheRepublicofSouthAfricaever
adequatelycaredforthefundamentalinterestsofthemillionsofblackswhoweresubjecttotheirruleandyetlackedallmeansofparticipatinginthemakingofthelaws
thatsubjectedthemtothemisery,humiliation,andtormentthatwastheirlot.

IfweaccepttheIdeaofIntrinsicEquality,thennoprocessoflawmakingcanbemorallyjustifiedifitdoesnottakeequallyintoaccounttheinterestsofeveryperson
subjecttothelaws.Whileitcannotbeshown,Ithink,thatdemocracyissufficienttoensuretheprotectionofthebasicinterestsofallpeoplesubjecttoitslaws,the
recordofhumanexperienceprovidesconvincingevidencethatpeoplewho,becauseoftheirexclusionfromcitizenship,aredeprivedoftheopportunitytodefendtheir
owninterestswillalmostcertainlynothavetheirinterestsadequatelytakenintoaccountbythedemosfromwhichtheyareexcluded.Whilecitizenshipinademocratic
politydoesnotensurethatone'sinterestsareweighedequallyinlawmaking,thehistoricalrecorddoesatanyratedemonstratethatcitizenshipisanecessarycondition.

PersonalAutonomyandPersonalDevelopment

Sotoowithpersonaldevelopment.Thepersonaldevelopmentthatsomewritersattributetocitizenshipinademocraticorderisinlargepartmoraldevelopment:
gainingamorematuresenseofresponsibilityforone'sactions,abroaderawarenessoftheothersaffectedbyone'sactions,agreaterwillingnesstoreflect



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onandtakeintoaccounttheconsequencesofone'sactionsforothers,andsoon.Probablyfewpeoplewouldcontestthenormativepremisethatitisdesirableto
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promotethegrowthofthesequalities.Theextenttowhichthesequalitiesareactuallyproducedincitizensbydemocracyis,asIsaidinthelastchapter,nota
normativequestionbutanempiricaloneandhowwelltheempiricalclaimholdsupisatpresentunclear.Therelevantpointhere,however,isthattheargument
presupposesthatpeopleoughttoenjoyahighdegreeofpersonalautonomyinindividualandcollectivedecisions.Anyonewhosepersonalautonomyispermanently
replacedbypaternalisticauthoritywouldbemaintainedinaperpetualstateofchildhoodanddependence.Consequently,ifcollectivedecisionswerealwaysmadeby
paternalisticauthoritiesbyabodyofguardians,letussaytheninthedomainofpublicaffairspeoplecouldneveroutgrowtheirchildhood.

PersonalAutonomyandSelfDetermination

Thatpersonalautonomyandthusinclusionasafullcitizeninademocraticorderarenecessarytoselfdeterminationisevenmoreobvious.Lackingpersonalautonomy,
onesimplycouldnotliveunderrulesofone'sownchoosingasaresult,onewouldbeneitherselfdeterminingnormorallyautonomousandtothatextentcouldnotbe
amoralperson.Theminimumdesirablerangeforpersonalautonomymustthereforebeatleastasbroadastheminimumdesirablerangeofselfdeterminationand
moralautonomy.Andtheminimumdesirablerangeforselfdeterminationandmoralautonomyisalladults,withtheusualrareexceptionsforthoselackingrational
faculties.5

TheStrongPrincipleRestated

Ifthegoodorinterestsofeveryoneshouldbeweighedequally,andifeachadultpersonisingeneralthebestjudgeofhisorhergoodorinterests,theneveryadult
memberofanassociationissufficientlywellqualified,takenallaround,toparticipateinmakingbindingcollectivedecisionsthataffecthisorhergoodorinterests,that
is,tobeafullcitizenofthedemos.Morespecifically,whenbindingdecisionsaremade,theclaimsofeachcitizenastothelaws,rules,policies,etc.tobeadopted
mustbecountedasvalidandequallyvalid.Moreover,noadultmembersaresodefinitelybetterqualifiedthantheothersthattheyshouldbeentrustedwithmaking
bindingcollectivedecisions.Morespecifically,whenbindingdecisionsaremade,nocitizen'sclaimsastothelaws,rules,andpoliciestobeadoptedaretobecounted
assuperiortotheclaimsofanyothercitzen.

Takenaspremises,then,thePrincipleofEqualConsiderationofInterestsandthePresumptionofPersonalAutonomyjustifyouradoptingtheStrongPrincipleof
Equality.TheStrongPrinciple,inturn,isatoncethemostpowerfulandthemostcontroversialassumptioninthetheoryofthedemocraticprocess.Byacceptingthe
StrongPrinciple,ineffectweacceptthedemocraticprocessasarequirementformakingbindingdecisions.



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Chapter8
ATheoryoftheDemocraticProcess
"Indemocraticstates,"AristotlewroteinThePolitics,"thepeople[ordemos]issovereigninoligarchies,ontheotherhand,thefew[oroligoi]havethe
position"(1952,110).Democracymeans,literally,rulebythepeople.1 Butwhatdoesitmeantosaythatthepeoplerule,thepeopleissovereign,apeoplegoverns
itself?Inordertorule,thepeoplemusthavesomewayofruling,aprocessforruling.Whatarethedistinctivecharacteristicsofademocraticprocessofgovernment?
Forexample,howdoesitdifferfromrulebythefew,oroligarchy?

Toanswerthesequestionsitisusefultoproceedinthreestages.First,sincedemocracyisapoliticalorderitisusefultosetouttheassumptionsthatjustifythe
existenceofapoliticalorder.Second,weneedtospecifytheassumptionsthatjustifyademocraticpoliticalorder.AlthoughIshalldescribethesetwosetsof
assumptionsratherabstractly,theyarenotmeanttobeahistorical,andtheydefinitelydonotpresumethefiction,commonindemocratictheorysinceLocke,ofaprior
"stateofnature"outofwhichapoliticalsocietyemergesbyasocialcontract.Third,weneedtodescribetheessentialcriteriaofademocraticpoliticalorderand
indicatehowthesefollowfromtheassumptions.

AssumptionsofaPoliticalOrder

Tobeginwith,letussupposethat(say,inaconcretehistoricalsituation)somepersonshaveinmindtheideaofforminganassociationtoachievecertainendsorwhat
ismorelikely,theywanttoadaptanalreadyexistingassociationtoundertakethesetasks.Iusethetermassociationlooselyasweshallseeinmoment,itneednotbe
astate.

Toachievetheseends,theassociationneedstoadoptpolicies,withwhichmemberswillbeobligedtoactconsistently.2 Ordinarily,theirobligationtoactconsistently
withthepoliciesoftheassociationisexpressedinaruleoralawthatincludespenaltiesfornoncompliance.Becausemembersareobligedtoobeytherulesorlaws,
thedecisionsmaybesaidtobebinding.Takencollectively,



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thedecisionmakerswhomakebindingdecisionsconstitutethegovernmentoftheassociation.Thesebindingdecisionsmightthereforealsobecalledgovernmentalor
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bindingcollectivedecisions.

Thatdecisionsarebindingdoesnotimplythattheassociationisnecessarilycoercive,employsthethreatofviolentsanctionstobringaboutcompliance,orpossesses
othersimilarcharacteristicsthatareoftenusedtodistinguishastatefromothersortsofassociations.Althoughthegovernmentoftheassociationmightcreatean
expectationthatviolatorswillbepunishedbyofficials,insomecircumstancesdecisionsmightbebindingwithoutpunishmentsbyofficialsorevenbyothermembers.
Toevokeanexpectationofdivineormagicalsanctionsmightbesufficient.Orthemereprocessofenactingorannouncingarulemightcauseenoughmembersto
adoptitasaprincipleofconducttoproduceaquitesatisfactorylevelofcompliance.Inshort,althoughtheassociationcouldbeastateintheusualsenseofacoercive
order,itmightnotbelikewisethegovernmentoftheassociationneednotbethegovernmentofastate.Thuswecandescribeageneraltheoryofthedemocratic
processapplicabletoassociationswhetherornottheyconstituteastate.

Theprocessformakingbindingdecisionsincludesatleasttwoanalyticallydistinguishablestages:settingtheagendaanddecidingtheoutcome.Settingtheagendais
thepartoftheprocessduringwhichmattersareselectedonwhichdecisionsaretobemade(includingadecisionnottodecidethematter).Decidingtheoutcome,or
thedecisivestage,istheperiodduringwhichtheprocessculminatesinanoutcome,signifyingthatapolicyhasdefinitelybeenadoptedorrejected.Ifsettingthe
agendaisthefirstsay,thedecisivestageisthelastsay,themomentofsovereigntywithrespecttothematterathand.Untilthedecisivestageiscompleted,theprocess
ofdecisionmakingistentative.Itmayleadtodiscussion,agreements,evenoutcomesofvotesbuttheseareallpreliminary,maybeoverruledatthedecisivestage,and
arenotbindingonthemembers.Decisionsbecomebindingonlyattheconclusionofthedecisivestage.Althoughthisanalyticdistinctionwouldapplytoanypolitical
order,itisessentialinclarifyingthenatureofthedemocraticprocess,aswillbecomeclearerlateron.

Whatconstitutesthedecisivestageinmakingcollectivedecisionsisfarfromselfevident.Adoptingaconstitutionoraconstitutionalamendmentissurelyadecisive
stage(or,ifitisnot,theconstitutionisafictiveorpaperconstitution).Formostpoliciesenactedinaconstitutionalorder,however,thedecisivestageoccurswithinthe
existingconstitutionallimits.Inprinciple,astageisdecisiveifallpriordecisionscanstillberecalledorreversed.Thus,priortothedecisivestagedecisionsmaybe
thoughtofashavingbeendelegatedbutnotalienatedbythosewhoparticipateinthedecisivestage,adistinctionwereturntobelow.

AssumptionsJustifyingaDemocraticPoliticalOrder

Bindingdecisionsaretobemadeonlybypersonswhoaresubjecttothedecisions,thatis,bymembersoftheassociation,notbypersonsoutside



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theassociation.Nolawmakeris,inthefamiliarexpression,abovethelaw.Theassumptionrestsontheelementaryprincipleoffairnessthatlawscannotrightfullybe
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imposedonothersbypersonswhoarenotthemselvesobligedtoobeythoselaws.Moreover,whilethisassumptionisnotsufficienttoguaranteethatfreedomofself
determinationwillberespected,clearlyitisnecessarytoselfdeterminationforlawsandrulesimposedbyanoutsiderwouldviolatetheselfdeterminationofallthose
subjecttothelaws.

Thegoodofeachmemberisentitledtoequalconsideration.ThisisastraightforwardapplicationtoallthemembersoftheIdeaofIntrinsicEqualitydescribedinthe
lastchapter.

Noadultmemberoftheassociationshouldeverberequiredtodemonstrateadequatecompetenceforprotectingthatmember'sowninterests.Instead,theburdenof
proofwouldalwaysliewithaclaimtoanexception,andnoexceptionwouldbeadmissible,eithermorallyorlegally,intheabsenceofaverycompellingshowing.Thus
thisassumptionpresupposesthateachmemberoftheassociationis,takenallaround,abetterjudgeofhisorherintereststhanotherswouldbe.Thegroundsfor
adoptingthispresumptionweresetoutinchapter5.Meanwhile,letuscalltheadultmemberswhosatisfythispresumptioncitizenscollectivelythecitizensconstitute
thedemos,populus,orcitizenbody.

Whenbindingdecisionsaremade,theclaimsofeachcitizenastothedesirabilityofthepoliciestobeadoptedmustbecountedasvalidandequallyvalid.3 Thusby
wayofthetwopreviousassumptionsweareledtotheconclusionthatStrongEqualityexistsamongthecitizens.

Althoughtheprecedingassumptionsmightappeartobesufficienttojustifythedemocraticprocess,formallytheyneedtobecomplementedbyanelementaryprinciple
offairnessthatitwilldonoharmtomakeexplicit.Thisprinciple,whichfewwouldcontest,issimplythat,ingeneral,scarceandvaluedthingsshouldbefairlyallocated.
Fairnessneednotrequireequalityinallocationsitmight,forexample,requireallocationaccordingtodesert.Evenwhenfairnessdoesrequireequality,aswesawin
chapter6fairequalitymightnotrequireequallotsorshares.Butincertaincircumstancesfairnessdoesrequirethateachpersonshouldreceiveanequalshareor,ifthat
isimpossible,anequalchancetogainthescarceitem.

CriteriaforaDemocraticProcess

Suppose,then,thatsomepersonswishtoconstituteapoliticalorder.Supposefurtherthattheassumptionsjustifyingademocraticpoliticalorderarevalidwithrespect
tothisgroup.Becausetheseassumptionsarevalid,weconcludethattheyoughttoadoptademocraticorderandthereforethattheprocessbywhichthedemosisto
arriveatitsdecisionsoughttomeetcertaincriteria.WhenIsaythattheprocessoughttomeetcertaincriteria,Imeanthatifonebelievesintheassumptions,thenone
mustreasonablyaffirmthedesirabilityofthecriteriaconversely,torejectthecriteriaisineffecttorejectoneormoreoftheassumptions.4

Thefivecriteriaarestandardsidealstandards,ifyoulikeagainstwhich



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proceduresproposedoughttobeevaluatedinanyassociationtowhichtheassumptionsapply.Anyprocessthatmetthemperfectlywouldbeaperfectdemocratic
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process,andthegovernmentoftheassociationwouldbeaperfectdemocraticgovernment.Itakeforgrantedthataperfectdemocraticprocessandaperfect
democraticgovernmentmightneverexistinactuality.Theyrepresentideasofhumanpossibilitiesagainstwhichactualitiesmaybecompared.Evenifthecriteriacan
neverbeperfectlysatisfied,theyareusefulinappraisingrealworldpossibilities,asIshallshow.Naturallytheydonoteliminateallelementsofjudgmentinevaluation.
Forexample,thecriteriadonotspecifyanyparticularprocedures,suchasmajorityrule,forspecificprocedurescannotbedirectlyextractedfromthecriteria.And
judgmentswillhavetotakeintoaccountthespecifichistoricalconditionsunderwhichademocraticassociationistobedeveloped.However,nooneshouldbe
surprisedthatdemocratictheory,likeallothernormativetheories,cannotfurnishcompletelyunambiguousanswersforeveryconcretesituationinwhichachoicehasto
bemadebetweenalternativeproposals.

Whatcriteria,then,willbeuniquelyconsistentwithourassumptionsandtherebyprovideuswiththedistinguishingfeaturesofademocraticprocess?

EffectiveParticipation

Throughouttheprocessofmakingbindingdecisions,citizensoughttohaveanadequateopportunity,andanequalopportunity,forexpressingtheir
preferencesastothefinaloutcome.Theymusthaveadequateandequalopportunitiesforplacingquestionsontheagendaandforexpressingreasonsfor
endorsingoneoutcomeratherthananother.

Todenyanycitizenadequateopportunitiesforeffectiveparticipationmeansthatbecausetheirpreferencesareunknownorincorrectlyperceived,theycannotbetaken
intoaccount.Butnottotaketheirpreferencesastothefinaloutcomeequallyintoaccountistorejecttheprincipleofequalconsiderationofinterests.

VotingEqualityattheDecisiveStage

Atthedecisivestageofcollectivedecisions,eachcitizenmustbeensuredanequalopportunitytoexpressachoicethatwillbecountedasequalinweightto
thechoiceexpressedbyanyothercitizen.Indeterminingoutcomesatthedecisivestage,thesechoices,andonlythesechoices,mustbetakenintoaccount.

Becausethechoicesare,ofcourse,whatweordinarilymeanbyvoting,thiscriterionmaybesaidtorequirevotingequalityatthedecisivestage.

ObviouslysomethinglikethisrequirementhasbeenamainstayofdemocratictheoryandpracticefromclassicalGreeceonward.Butonwhatrationalground?Its
justificationrests,Ithink,onthepracticaljudgmentthatvotingequalityatthedecisivestageisnecessaryinordertoprovideadequateprotectionfortheintrinsic
equalityofcitizensandthePresumptionofPersonalAutonomy.Withoutit,citizenswouldfacetheprospectofaninfiniteregressofpotentialinequalitiesintheir
influenceoverdecisions,withnofinalcourtofappealinwhich,aspoliticalequals,



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theycoulddecidewhethertheirinterests,astheyinterpretedthem,weregivenequalconsideration.Justasinequalitiesinotherresourcescouldgiveadvantagesto
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somepersonsinsecuringspecialconsiderationfortheirinterests,andhandicapothers,sotoo,withoutarequirementofequalvotingatthedecisivestage,inequalitiesin
votescouldworkcumulativelytoviolatethePrincipleofEqualConsiderationofInterests.

Notice,however,whatthecriterionofvotingequalityatthedecisivestagedoesnotspecify.Tobeginwith,itdoesnotrequirevotingequalityatprecedingstages.A
demosmightreasonablydecidethattheinterestsofsomepersonscouldbestbegivenequalconsiderationbyweighingtheirvotesmoreheavilyatearlierstages.Onthe
samegroundsthedemosmightdelegatesomedecisionstocitizenbodiesinwhichvoteswereunequallyweighted.Arrangementslikethesemightbeexceptional,as
theyhavebeenhistoricallyindemocraticcountries,buttheywouldnotnecessarilyviolatethecriterion.Thecriterionwouldbeviolated,however,ifthedemoswereno
longerfreetoaltersucharrangementswhenevertheyfailedtoachievetheirpurposesorthreatenedtocausethedemostoloseitsfinalcontrolovercollectivedecisions.

Moreover,thecriteriondoesnotspecifyaparticularmethodofvotingorelections.Torequirethatcitizenshaveequalopportunitiestoexpresstheirchoicescouldbe
satisfiedifthevotesorvoterswereselectedrandomly,thatis,bylot.Nordoesequalvotingmeanthateachcitizenshouldnecessarilybeentitledtoanequalvotein
districtsofequalnumbersofvotersorresidentsasystemofproportionalrepresentationmightserveaswellorbetter.Howcitizensmaybestexpresstheirchoices,
andwhatspecificrulesandproceduresshouldbeadopted,arequestionsthatrequireadditionalpracticaljudgments.Butproceduresthatmeetthecriterionbetter
oughttobechosenoverthosethatmeetitworse.Thatthebetterprocedureshouldbepreferredtotheworseholdsevenifalltheproceduresproposedareinsome
respectsdefective,asmightoftenbethecase.

Finally,thecriteriondoesnotexplicitlyrequireanassociationtoadopttheprincipleofmajorityruleforitsdecisions.Itrequiresonlythatmajorityruleandalternatives
toitbeevaluatedaccordingtothisandothercriteria,includingtheprinciplesandassumptionsthatjustifythiscriterion,suchastheprincipleofequalconsiderationof
interests,andthatthesolutionthatbestmeetsthecriteriashouldbeadopted.Whethermajorityruleisthebestsolutionisthusleftopen.Asweshallseeinchapter10,
theproblemposedbymajorityruleandthealternativestoitisoneofextremedifficultyforwhichnocompletelysatisfactorysolutionshaveyetbeenfound.Judging
whatdecisionrulebestmeetsthecriterionofvotingequality,whethergenerallyorinaspecificcontext,isaquestiononwhichpersonswhoarecommittedtovoting
equalitycontinuetodisagree.

Ithinkitisconsistentwithhistoricusagetosaythatanyassociationwhosegovernmentsatisfiesthecriteriaofeffectiveparticipationandvotingequalitygovernsitself,to
thatlimitedextent,bymeansofademocraticprocess.Inordertoleaveroomforsomeimportantdistinctionstocome,Iwanttosaythatsuchanassociationis
governedbyademocraticprocessinanarrowsense.Thoughthe



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processisnarrowerinscopethanafullydemocraticprocess,thetwocriteriaenableustoevaluatealargenumberofpossibleprocedures.Tobesure,theycannotbe
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decisiveincaseswhereaprocedureisbetteraccordingtoonecriterionandworsebytheother.Moreover,anyevaluationwouldordinarilyrequireadditional
judgmentsaboutthefactsoftheparticularsituationoraboutgeneraltendenciesandregularitiesofhumanbehaviorandaction.Nonetheless,thecriteriaarefarfrom
vacuous.AlthoughIwillnotintroducearigorousargumenthere,itwouldbehardtodenythatproceduresprovidingfordecisionsbyarandomlyselectedsampleof
citizenswouldsatisfythecriteriabetterthanaprocedurebywhichonecitizenmakesbindingdecisionsforalltherestorthatavotingschemeallocatingonevoteto
eachcitizenatthedecisivestagewouldbebetterthanaschemeinwhichsomecitizenshadtenvotesandothersnone.Idonotmeantoimply,however,thatjudgments
aboutalternativeslikethesewouldfollowasunassailableconclusionsfromaperfectlyrigorousargument.

EnlightenedUnderstanding

AsIhavealreadysuggested,judgmentsabouttheexistence,composition,andboundariesofademosarehighlycontestable.Thusonemightsimplychallengesuch
judgmentsoutrightbyassertingthatsomecitizensaremorequalifiedthantheresttomakethedecisionsrequired.Thisobjectionofcourseraisesthechallengeto
democracyposedbyguardianship,whichwehavealreadyconsideredatlength.WhatIwishtoconsidernow,however,isasecondobjectionthatmightrunlikethis:
Iagreetheobjectormightsaythatthecitizensareequallywellqualified,takenallaround.Iagreealsothatnoneamongthem,oramongtheothermembers,oramong
nonmembersaresodefinitelybetterqualifiedastowarranttheirmakingthedecisionsinsteadofthedemos.Yetforallthat,Ithinkthecitizensarenotaswellqualifiedasthey
mightbe.Theymakemistakesaboutthemeanstotheendstheywanttheyalsochooseendstheywouldrejectiftheyweremoreenlightened.Iagreethenthattheyoughtto
governthemselvesbyproceduresthataresatisfactoryaccordingtothecriteriaofademocraticprocess,narrowlydefined.Yetanumberofdifferentprocedureswillsatisfythe
criteriaequallywellamongthese,however,somearemorelikelytoleadtoamoreenlighteneddemosandthustobetterdecisionsthanothers.Surelythesearebetter
proceduresandoughttobechosenovertheothers.

Onemightobject,Isuppose,thatenlightenmenthasnothingtodowithdemocracy.ButIthinkthiswouldbeafoolishandhistoricallyfalseassertion.Itisfoolish
becausedemocracyhasusuallybeenconceivedasasysteminwhich''rulebythepeople"makesitmorelikelythatthe"people"willgetwhatitwants,orwhatit
believesisbest,thanalternativesystemslikeguardianshipinwhichanelitedetermineswhatisbest.Buttoknowwhatitwants,orwhatisbest,thepeoplemustbe
enlightened,atleasttosomedegree.Andbecauseadvocatesofdemocracyhaveinvariablyrecognizedthisandplacedgreatstressonthemeanstoaninformed



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andenlighteneddemos,suchaseducationandpublicdiscussion,theobjectionisalsohistoricallyfalse.
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Iproposethereforetoamplifythemeaningofthedemocraticprocessbyaddingathirdcriterion.Unfortunately,Idonotknowhowtoformulatethecriterionexceptin
wordsthatarerichinmeaningandcorrespondinglyambiguous.Letme,however,offerthisformulationforthecriterionofenlightenedunderstanding:

Eachcitizenoughttohaveadequateandequalopportunitiesfordiscoveringandvalidating(withinthetimepermittedbytheneedforadecision)the
choiceonthemattertobedecidedthatwouldbestservethecitizen'sinterests.

Thiscriterionimplies,then,thatalternativeproceduresformakingdecisionsoughttobeevaluatedaccordingtotheopportunitiestheyfurnishcitizensforacquiringan
understandingofmeansandends,ofone'sinterestsandtheexpectedconsequencesofpoliciesforinterests,notonlyforoneselfbutforallotherrelevantpersonsas
well.Insofarasacitizen'sgoodorinterestsrequiresattentiontoapublicgoodorgeneralinterest,thencitizensoughttohavetheopportunitytoacquirean
understandingofthesematters.Ambiguousasthecriterionmaybe,itprovidesguidancefordeterminingtheshapethatinstitutionsshouldtake.Thusthecriterion
makesithardtojustifyproceduresthatwouldcutofforsuppressinformationwhich,wereitavailable,mightwellcausecitizenstoarriveatadifferentdecisionorthat
wouldgivesomecitizensmucheasieraccessthanotherstoinformationofcrucialimportanceorthatwouldpresentcitizenswithanagendaofdecisionsthathadtobe
decidedwithoutdiscussion,thoughtimewasavailableandsoon.Tobesure,thesemaylooklikeeasycases,butagreatmanypoliticalsystemsperhapsmost
operateaccordingtotheworsenotthebetterprocedures.

ControloftheAgenda

Ifanassociationweretosatisfyallthreecriteria,itcouldproperlyberegardedasafullproceduraldemocracywithrespecttoitsagendaandinrelationtoitsdemos.
Thecriteriaaretobeunderstoodasaspectsofthebestpossiblepoliticalsystem,fromademocraticpointofviewwhilenoactualsystemcouldbeexpectedtosatisfy
thecriteriaperfectly,systemscouldbejudgedmoredemocraticorless,andtothatextentbetterorworse,accordingtohownearlytheymeetthecriteria.

Yettosaythatasystemisgovernedbyafullydemocraticprocess"withrespecttoanagenda"and"inrelationtoademos"suggeststhepossibilitythatthethreecriteria
areincomplete.Thetwoqualifyingclausesimplythepossibilityofrestrictionsofdemocraticdecisionmakingprocesseslimitedtoanarrowagenda,orresponsivetoa
highlyexclusivedemos,orboth.Tojudgewhetherademosisappropriatelyinclusiveandexercisescontroloveranappropriateagendarequiresadditionalstandards.

Inordertoseemoreclearlywhyafourthcriterionisneeded,letussupposethatPhilipofMacedon,havingdefeatedtheAtheniansatChaeronea,deprivesthe
Athenianassemblyoftheauthoritytomakeanydecisionsonmattersofforeignandmilitarypolicy.Thecitizenscontinuetoassemblesomefortytimesayearand



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decideonmanymatters,butonsomeofthemostimportantquestionstheymustremainsilent.Withrespectto'local'matters,theAthenianpolisisnolessdemocratic
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thanbefore,butwithrespecttoforeignandmilitaryaffairstheAtheniansarenowgovernedhierarchicallybyPhiliporhisminions.WouldwewanttosaythatAthens
wasnowfullydemocraticorwasasdemocraticasithadbeenbefore?

Althoughoutsidecontrolmakesthepointmoredramatically,controlovertheagendamayalsobetakenfromcitizensbysomeofitsownmembers.Letusimaginean
independentcountrywherethethreecriteriawehavediscussedarerelativelywellmet,andinadditiontherearenolimitationsonthemattersthatcitizensmaydecide.
Theiragendaofcollectivedecisionsiscompletelyopen.Supposethatanantidemocraticmovementsomehowseizespower.Inamovetoplacatethedemocratic
sentimentsoftheirfellowcountrymenthenewrulersleavetheoldconstitutionsymbolicallyinplace.However,theymodifyitinonerespect.Hereafter,thepeoplemay
usetheirolddemocraticpoliticalinstitutionsforonlyafewmatterspurelylocalquestions,letussay,suchastrafficcontrol,streetmaintenance,andresidentialzoning.
Therulerskeepallthereststrictlyundertheirowncontrol.Evenifthenewsystemweretomeetthefirstthreecriteriaperfectlyandthuswas"fullydemocraticwith
respecttoitsagenda,"itwouldbeatravestyofdemocracy.Forcitizenscouldnotdemocraticallydecidematterstheyfelttobeimportantotherthanthosetherulers
hadallowedtoremainonthepitifullyshrunkenagendaoftheneutereddemocracy.Thecontrolofnondemocraticrulersovertheagendacouldbemuchlessblatant
andmoresubtle.Insomecountries,forexample,militaryleadersareunderthenominalcontrolofelectedcivilianswhoknow,however,thattheywillberemovedfrom
office,andworse,unlesstheytailortheirdecisionstomeetthewishesofthemilitary.

Theseconsiderationssuggestafourthcriterion,finalcontroloftheagendabythedemos.

Thedemosmusthavetheexclusiveopportunitytodecidehowmattersaretobeplacedontheagendaofmattersthataretobedecidedbymeansofthe
democraticprocess.

Thecriterionoffinalcontrolisperhapswhatisalsomeantwhenwesaythatinademocracythepeoplemusthavethefinalsay,ormustbesovereign.Asystemthat
satisfiesthiscriterionaswellastheotherthreecouldberegardedashavingafullydemocraticprocessinrelationtoitsdemos.

Accordingtothiscriterion,apoliticalsystemwouldemployafullydemocraticprocessevenifthedemosdecidedthatitwouldnotmakeeverydecisiononevery
matterbutinsteadchosetohavesomedecisionsonsomemattersmade,say,inahierarchicalfashionbyjudgesoradministrators.Aslongasthedemoscould
effectivelyretrieveanymatterfordecisionbyitself,thecriterionwouldbemet.Inthisrespect,then,thecriteriaforademocraticprocesspresentedhereallowsmore
latitudefordelegationofdecisionmakingthanwouldbepermissiblebyRousseau'seccentricdefinitionofdemocracyintheSocialContract.Becausehedefined
democracysoastomakedelegationimpermissible,Rousseauconcludedthat



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"iftherewereapeopleofGods,itwouldgovernitselfdemocratically.Suchaperfectgovernmentisnotsuitedtomen"(Rousseau1978,bk.3,chap.4,p.85).
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Thusthecriterionoffinalcontroldoesnotpresupposeajudgmentthatthedemosisqualifiedtodecideeveryquestionrequiringabindingdecision.Itdoespresuppose
ajudgmentthatthedemosisqualifiedtodecide(1)whichmattersdoordonotrequirebindingdecisions,(2)ofthosethatdo,whichmattersthedemosisqualifiedto
decideforitself,and(3)thetermsonwhichthedemosdelegatesauthority.Toacceptthecriterionasappropriateisthereforetoimplythatthedemosisthebestjudge
ofitsowncompetenceandlimits.Consequently,tosaythatcertainmattersoughttobeplacedbeyondthefinalreachofthedemosinthesensethatthedemosought
tobeprohibitedfromdealingwiththematallistosaythatonthesemattersthedemosisnotqualifiedtojudgeitsowncompetenceandlimits.

BydelegationImeanarevocablegrantofauthority,subjecttorecoverybythedemos.Empirically,ofcourse,theboundariesbetweendelegationandalienationare
notalwayssharp,andwhatbeginsasdelegationmightendasalienation.Moreover,theempiricalproblemofjudgingwhetherthefinalagendaiscovertlycontrolledby
certainleadersoutsidethedemocraticprocesslikethemilitary,intheexamplegivenearlierisnecessarilycomplicatedbythecovertnatureofthecontrol.But,
howeverdifficultitmaybetodrawthelineinpractice,thetheoreticaldistinctionbetweendelegationandalienationisnonethelesscrucial.Inasystememployingafully
democraticprocess,decisionsaboutdelegationwouldbemadeaccordingtodemocraticprocedures.Butalienationofcontroloverthefinalagenda(orits
appropriationbyleadersoutsidethedemocraticprocess)wouldclearlyviolatethecriterionoffinalcontrolandwouldbeinconsistentwiththejudgmentthatthefull
conditionofequalqualificationexistsamongcitizens.5

Thecriterionoffinalcontrolcompletestherequirementsforafullydemocraticprocessinrelationtoademos.Ifallthemembersarejudgedequallyqualified,inthe
fullsense,andiftheotherconditionssetoutearlierareheldtoexistamongthem,thentheproceduresaccordingtowhichthesepersons,thecitizens,makebinding
decisionsoughttobeevaluatedaccordingtothefourcriteria.

WhyEqualOpportunity?

Thecriteriaspecifythatcitizensorthedemosoughttohaveadequateandequalopportunitiestoactincertainways.Icanreadilyimaginetwoobjectionstothis
formulation.First,itmightbesaidthat"equalopportunities"canbereducedtonothingmorethanformalorlegalrequirementsthatignoreimportantdifferencesin
resources,forexample.SupposeCitizenPispoorandCitizenRisrich.Then(theargumentmightgo)bothPandRmayhave"equalopportunities"toparticipatein
collectivedecisions,inthesensethatbotharelegallyentitledtodoso.YetbecauseRhasfargreateraccesstomoney,information,publicity,organizations,time,and
otherpoliticalresourcesthanP,notonlywillRprobablyparticipatemorethanP,butR'sinfluenceondecisionswillvastlyoutweighP's.



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Theobjectiondrawsitsforcefromthefamiliarfactthatinfluenceisafunctionofresources,andtypicallyresourcesareunequallydistributed.Nonetheless,itmissesthe
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point.For"equalopportunities"means"equalopportunities,"andwhattheexampleshowsisthatR'sandP'sopportunitiestoparticipatearedecidedlyunequal.
Thoughtheideaofequalopportunityisoftensoweaklyinterpretedthatitisrightlydismissedastooundemanding,whenitistakeninitsfullestsenseitisextraordinarily
demandingsodemanding,indeed,thatthecriteriaforthedemocraticprocesswouldrequireapeoplecommittedtoittoinstitutemeasureswellbeyondthosethat
eventhemostdemocraticstateshavehithertobroughtabout.InthefinalchaptersIshallsuggestsomepossibilitiesthatseemtometofallwithintherangeoffeasibility.

Asecondobjectionmightgolikethis:Anopportunitytoacttodosomethingnecessarilyimpliesthatonemightchoosenottoact.Ifthedemocraticprocessis
desirable,thenshouldthecriterianotspecifydutiesaswellasopportunitiesdutiesofthecitizentoparticipate,tovote,tobecomeinformed,andthedutyofthe
demostodeterminehowtheagendaistobedecided?WhileIbelievethedemocraticprocessdoesimplydutieslikethese,theyaremoralduties.Theytaketheirplace
amonganarrayofobligations,rights,andopportunitiesthatwouldconfrontcitizensinademocraticorder.Icannotsaythatitwouldalwaysbewrongforacitizento
choosenottofulfillthepoliticalobligationsimpliedbythecriteriaofthedemocraticprocess.ItseemstomemoreconsistentwiththePresumptionofPersonal
Autonomyandwithfreedomofselfdeterminationandmoralautonomytoensurethatcitizenshavethefreedomtochoosehowtheywillfulfilltheirpoliticalobligations.

ProblemsintheTheory

ThetheoryofthedemocraticprocessthatIhavejustdescribedmightseemadequateasitstands.Yetitisradicallyincomplete.Severalofthemostcrucial
assumptionsofthetheoryaremuchtoodebatabletobeacceptablewithoutfurtherexamination.Theimplicationsofthetheoryarealsofarfromclear,andinanycase
importantimplicationsarethemselveslikelytobecontested.

IntherestofthisbookthereforeItakeupthemostimportantproblemsinthetheoryofthedemocraticprocess.Althoughthereisnodefinitivesolutionformostof
theseproblems,Ishalltrytoarriveasclosetoareasonablesolutionasmaybepossibleatpresent.

1.TheargumentfortheStrongPrincipleofEqualitywouldappeartosupporttheconclusionthateveryonesubjecttothelawsshouldbeincludedinthedemos.
Everyone?Notquite:notchildren,forexample:thePresumptionofPersonalAutonomyappliestoadults.Aswesawearlier,Atheniandemocratsdidnotfindit
anomalousthattheirdemosincludedonlyaminorityofadults.Wellintothelastcenturymostadvocatesofdemocracyassumedthatwomenwererightlyexcludedfrom
thesuffrage,thatis,fromthedemos.Inmostcountrieswomengainedthesuffrageonlyinthiscentury,andinafewonlyaftertheSecondWorldWar.In



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fact,notuntilourowncenturydiddemocratictheoryandpracticebegintoreflectabeliefthatall(orvirtuallyall)adultsshouldbeincludedinthedemosasamatterof
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right.Isajudgmentastowhoshouldbeincludedinthedemos,then,purelyarbitraryorsostronglyconditionedbyhistoryandculturethatnogeneraljudgmentis
possible?Althoughdemocratictheoryandpracticebothprovidesubstantialsupportforsuchaconclusion,Ibelieveitismistaken.Itakeupthisprobleminthenext
chapter.

2.Thecriteriaforademocraticprocess,asIhavedescribedthemhere,donotspecifyadecisionrule.Historically,ofcourse,ithasusuallybeencontendedthatthe
onlydecisionruleappropriatetothedemocraticprocessismajorityrule.Yeteventheterm"majority"ruledoesnotrefertoasingle,welldefineddecisionrule:It
referstoafamilyofpossiblerules.Theserangefromtherulethatthealternativetobeacceptedasbindingistheonethatgainsthegreatestnumberofvotes,evenifthis
numberislessthan50percent,toothersthatrequireatleast50percentplusoneoramatchingofeveryalternativeagainsteveryotheralternative.Butallsuch
numericalrulesaresubjecttopotentialdefects,suchascyclesinwhichnomajoritypreferencecandefinitelybeestablished.Andeveniftheseproblemscanbesolved,
thequestionremains:Whyshouldweacceptanymajorityprinciple?Theseissueswillbeconsideredinchapter10.

3.Advocatesofguardianshipcontendthatanyprocessbywhichordinarycitizensruleisunlikelytoachievethepublicgood,sinceordinarycitizenslackboththe
necessaryknowledgeandthenecessaryvirtue.However,evenadvocatesofdemocracysometimesarguethatnoprocessissufficienttoensurethatthepublicgood
(thepublicinterest,thegoodofall,etc.)willbeachieved.Whatissometimesreferredtoastheideaofsubstantivedemocracygivesprioritytothejusticeorrightness
ofthesubstantiveoutcomesofdecisionsratherthantotheprocessbywhichthedecisionsarereached.Inonephrasing,substantivejusticeshouldtakepriorityover
proceduraljusticeandsubstantiverightspriorityoverproceduralrights.Sortingouttheissuesinvolvedinthisdisputeoverprioritiesis,asweshallseeinchapters11
and12,quitetricky.Butonthefaceofittheargumentfortheimportanceofsubstanceasagainstprocessclearlyhasmerit.

4.Ifthedemocraticprocessisameansbywhichsomecollectionofpersonsmayrightfullygovernitself,whatconstitutesanappropriatecollectionofpersonsfor
employingthedemocraticprocess?Isanycollectionofpersonsentitledtothedemocraticprocess?Inshort,ifdemocracymeansgovernmentbythepeople,what
constitutes"apeople"?Theremaybenoprobleminthewholedomainofdemocratictheoryandpracticemoreintractablethantheoneposedbythisinnocentseeming
question.Tograspit,imagineanaggregateofpersons.AdaptingJonathanSwifttoourpurposes,letuscallthemtheEggfolk.WhilemanyEggfolkcontendthatthe
Eggfolkconstituteasingle"people,"someinsistthattheyarereallydividedintotwodistinctpeoples,theBigEggfolkandtheLittleEggfolk,withsuchdifferentways
andbeliefsthattheyshouldgovernthemselvesseparately,eachentitledtoitsownfullydemocraticsystem.Howarewetodecide?As



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weshalldiscoverinchapter13,democratictheorysupplieslittlebywayofananswer.Infact,whilehistoricalanswersexist,theremaybenosatisfactorytheoretical
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solutiontothisproblem.

5.Astheproblemofadecisionruleillustrates,thedemocraticprocessmustsomehowbeactualizedintherealworldinactuallyexistingprocedures,institutions,
associations,states,andsoon.Aswesaw,inthelonghistoryofdemocracyintheWesternworlddemocraticideashavebeenappliedtotworadicallydifferenttypes
ofpoliticalsystem,thecitystateandthenationstate.Thesewereradicallydifferentinscale,andtheydevelopedradicallydifferentpoliticalinstitutions.Isitpossible,
then,tospecifyauniquesetofinstitutionsnecessarytothedemocraticprocess?Ordotheinstitutionalrequirementsvaryaccordingtothescaleofasocietyaswellas
otherfactors?Wereturntothesequestionsinchapters14and15.

6.Inevitably,wheneverdemocraticideasareappliedtotherealworld,actualdemocracyfallssignificantlyshortofidealstandards.Forexample,thecriteriaforthe
democraticprocesssetoutearlierhaveneverbeenfullymetandprobablycannotbe.Whatlevelofapproximationarewetoregardasinsomesensesatisfactory
sufficientlysatisfactory,letussay,sothatwemayreasonablycallsomeactualsystema"democracy."Thisproblemoftheproperthresholdofdemocracyismorethan
amerematterofterminology.Forexample,ifwefeelanobligationtoupholddemocraticgovernmentsbutnotauthoritariangovernments,thenthethresholdbecomes
essentialtoajudgmentaboutourobligations.

Ishallargueinchapter16thatanimportantthresholdofdemocracyhasbeenattainedbyasignificantnumberofmoderncountries,asevidencedbyaspecificsetof
politicalinstitutionswhich,takentogether,distinguishesthepoliticalsystemofthesecountriesfromall"democracies"andrepublicspriortotheeighteenthcenturyand
fromall"nondemocracies"inthecontemporaryworld.Althoughthesecountriesareordinarilysaidtobe"democracies,"Iwillrefertotheirsystemsdistinguishableas
Ihavesaidbyvirtueoftheirpoliticalinstitutionsaspolyarchies.Whatconditionsfavortheemergenceandpersistenceofpolyarchyinacountryandconversely,
theabsenceofwhatconditionsreducesthelikelihoodthatacountrywillarriveatthismodernthresholdofdemocracy?Iexplorethesequestionsinchapter17.

7.Sincethethresholdattainedbypolyarchyiswellshortofdemocraticideals,woulditbepossible,andifpossiblewoulditbedesirable,toclosesomeofthegap
betweenpolyarchyanddemocracytoestablishandsurpassyetanotherthresholdonthewaytodemocracy?Astrongcurrentofutopianismindemocraticthought
encouragesonetoansweryes.Butacountercurrentinmodernthought,whichwillbediscussedinchapter18,contendsthatotherpowerfultendencies,suchasa
universaltendencytooligarchy,setinsuperablelimitstothepossibilitiesoffurtherdemocratization.

8.Thetransformationinthescaleofdemocracythatcameaboutasaresultoftheattempttoapplythedemocraticprocesstothenationstateseemstohaveturned
politicallifeindemocraticcountriesintoacompetitivestruggleamongindividuals



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andgroupswithconflictingideas,ideals,andgoals.Whatthenisthefateofthatancientidealofpoliticalvirtueandthepursuitofacommongood?Thisquestionisthe
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subjectofchapters19and20.

9.Finally,then,whatcanwereasonablyconcludeastothelimitsandpossibilitiesofdemocratization,particularlyinaworldthatdoesnotstandstill,wherethelimits
andpossibilitiesmaybechangingasprofoundlyastheydidwhenthenationstatesupersededthecitystateasthelocusofdemocracy?Andwhataboutthe
nondemocraticgovernmentsthatnowprevailandmaycontinuetoprevailinamajorityofcountriesoftheworld?Howoughtweappraisepoliticalsystemsincountries
thatarenotdemocraticthathavenotevenreachedthethresholdofpolyarchy?InthefinalchaptersIwanttoexploresomeofthelimitsandpossibilitiesof
democracy.



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Chapter9
TheProblemofInclusion
Apoliticalorderthatmetthefourcriteriadescribedinthelastchapterwouldbefullydemocraticinrelationtoitsdemos.Butthedemosmightincludeallthemembers
orrangedownwardtoaninfinitesimallysmallproportionofthem.Intheextremecase,wouldwewanttosaythatthepoliticalorderwasademocracy?Ifnot,what
requirementscanwelaydown,andhowwouldwejustifythem?Theproblemisdifficult,anddemocratictheoryandideashavebynomeansprovidedasatisfactory
solution.Theproblemis,infact,twofold:

1.Theproblemofinclusion:Whatpersonshavearightfulclaimtobeincludedinthedemos?

2.Thescopeofitsauthority:Whatrightfullimitsarethereonthecontrolofademos?Isalienationevermorallypermissible?

Theproblemsareinterrelated.Theextenttowhichaparticulardemos(alocalcommunity,forexample)oughttohavefinalcontrolovertheagendaevidentlydepends
onapriorjudgmentastothescopeofmattersthatthedemosisqualifiedtodecide.Ajudgmentastothecompetenceofthedemosbearsonthescopeofitsagenda
andthenatureofanagendabearsonajudgmentastothecompositionofthedemos.Thedemosbeinggiven,thescopeofitsagendacanbedetermined.Thescopeof
anagendabeinggiven,thecompositionofanappropriatedemostomakedecisionsonthosematterscanbedetermined.Butinprinciple,itseems,theonecannotbe
finallydeterminedindependentlyoftheother.

Inthischapter,however,Ishallconcentrateonthefirst.Thesecondwillbeconsideredinthenexttwochapters.Whatthenproperlyconstitutesademos?Whomust
beincludedinaproperlyconstituteddemos,andwhomayormaynotbeexcludedfromit?

Thequestionofinclusionin(orexclusionfrom)ademosmightpresentalessseriouschallengeifademoscouldenactrulesthatwerebindingonlyonitself.Some
associationsdoescapetheprobleminthisway.Eitherallthemembersare



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alsocitizens,inwhichcasetheassociationisfullyinclusive.Oreverymemberisfreetoleavetheassociationatanytimewithnosignificantdifficulty,inwhichcasea
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memberwhoobjectstoarulecansimplyescapeitsapplicationbywithdrawingfromtheassociation.Tobesure,anoutsidermightarguethataselfregulatingdemos
wasactingunwiselyorunjustlytowarditself.Butsincethatclaimwouldhardlyjustifyincludingtheoutsidertheproblemofinclusionwouldstillbeavoided.

However,itisnottrueofeveryassociationthatitsdemoscanenactrulesbindingonlyonitself.Atradeunionmightenforcearulepreventingnonmembersfrom
workingataparticulartradeorworkplace.Anevenmoreobviousandcertainlymoreimportantexceptionisofcoursethestate.Evenifastatemetallfourofthe
previouscriteriaforademocraticprocess,itcouldenactlawsthatwereenforceableagainstpersonswhowerenotcitizens,didnothavetherighttoparticipatein
makingthelaws,andhadnotgiventheirconsenteitherexplicitlyorimplicitlytothelawstheywereforcedtoobey.Indeedeverystatehasdonesointhepast,and
thereareconvincingreasonsforthinkingthatallstates,eventhemostdemocraticstates,willcontinuetodosointhefuture.

Ifsomepersonsareexcludedfromthedemosofastateandyetarecompelledtoobeyitslaws,dotheyhaveajustifiableclaimeithertobeincludedinthedemosor
elsetobeexcludedfromthedomainofenforcement?Aretherecriteriaforjudgingwhen,ifever,exclusionisrightfulorinclusionisobligatory?Howinclusiveshould
thedemosbe?TheargumentfortheStrongPrincipleofEqualityprovidesthegroundsweneedforacriterionofinclusionthatademocraticprocesswouldhaveto
satisfy:thedemosshouldincludealladultssubjecttothebindingcollectivedecisionsoftheassociation.Thispropositionconstitutesthefifthandfinalcriterion
forafullydemocraticprocess.

Butbeforeweacceptitweshouldconsiderseveralalternativesolutionsthatreachfarbackintothehistoryofdemocratictheoryandpractice.

CitizenshipAsWhollyContingent

Onesolutionistosaythatthegroundsfordecidingwhooughttobeincludedinademosareinherentlyparticularisticandhistorical,oftenindeedprimordial,andcannot
besetforthasgeneralprinciples.Thuscitizenshipiswhollycontingentoncircumstancesthatcannotbespecifiedinadvance.

Asadescriptionofhistoricalpractice,thisviewcanhardlybefaulted.Andbecausepoliticalphilosopherscannotentirelyescapethetugoftheirowncircumstances,
theirviewsonthequestionofinclusionoftenreflectsomeoftheprejudicesoftheirtimes.ThusAristotlemanagedtofurnishaphilosophicrationalizationforslaveryby
arguingthatsomepersons"arebynatureslaves,anditisbetterforthem...toberuledbyamaster."And,thoughherecognizedthatpracticesvariedindifferent
states,hedidnotthinkthatlaborersandmechanicsshouldbecitizens(1952,1117,10710).Asweshallseeinamoment,laterpoliticalphilosopherslikeLocke
andRousseau,whointheirwritingsuseduniversalterms



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(suchas''allmen")thatimpliedawideextensionofcitizenship,didnotopposethenarrowboundariesoncitizenshipthatactuallyexistedintheirowntime.
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Buttodescribeanhistoricalfactisnottoansweranormativequestion.AsRousseauremarkedaboutHugoGrotius,"Hismostpersistentmodeofreasoningisalways
toestablishrightbyfact.Onecoulduseamorerationalmethod,butnotonemorefavorabletotyrants"(1978,47).Nonetheless,torelyonthecontingenciesofhistory
tosolvetheproblemofinclusionhasitsdefenders.PerhapsthemostexplicitisJosephSchumpeter.

Althoughdemocraticideasoftenyieldratherambiguousanswerstothequestionofinclusion,Schumpeterwasanexception.Itisan"inescapableconclusion,"he
asserted,thatwemust"leaveittoeverypopulustodefinehimself[sic]."Herestedhisargumentonanincontestablehistoricalfact:Whathadbeenthoughtandlegally
heldtoconstitutea"people"hasvariedenormously,evenamong"democratic"countries.Whatismore,therearenogroundsforrejectinganyexclusionwhatsoeveras
improper:"Itisnotrelevantwhetherwetheobserversadmitthevalidityofthosereasonsorofthepracticalrulesbywhichtheyaremadetoexcludeportionsofthe
populationallthatmattersisthatthesocietyinquestionadmitsit."Hepressedhisargumentrelentlessly.TheexclusionofblacksintheAmericanSouthdoesnotallow
ustosaythattheSouthwasundemocratic.Theruleofthe"Bolshevikparty"intheSovietUnion"wouldnotperseentitleustocalltheSovietRepublicundemocratic.
WeareentitledtocallitsoonlyiftheBolshevikpartyitselfismanagedinanundemocraticmannerasobviouslyitis"(Schumpeter[1942]1947,24345).1

Thelasttwoexamplesbeautifullyillustratetheabsurditiestowhichwemaybeledbytheabsenceofanycriterionfordefiningthedemos.Itisundeniablethatinthe
UnitedStates,southernblackswereexcludedfromthedemos.ButsurelytothatextenttheSouthwasundemocratic:undemocraticinrelationtoitsblack
population.SupposethatintheSouth,asinRhodesiaorSouthAfrica,blackshadbeenapreponderantmajorityofthepopulation.WouldSchumpeterstillhavesaid
thatthesouthernstateswere"democratic"?Istherenotsomenumberorproportionofapopulationbelowwhicha"people"isnotademosbutratheranaristocracy,
oligarchy,ordespotism?Iftherulersnumbered100inapopulationof100million,wouldwecalltherulersademosandthesystemademocracy?OnSchumpeter's
argument,arguablyBritainwasalreadya"democracy"bytheendoftheeighteenthcentury,eventhoughonlyoneadultintwentycouldvote.

Considerthemonumentalimplicationsofthesecondexample,inwhichSchumpeterassertsthat"theSovietRepublic"wouldbeademocracyifonlytherulingparty
itselfwereinternallydemocratic.Schumpeterimposesnominimumlimitsontherelativesizeoftheparty.Supposeitwere1percentofthepopulation?Orsupposethat
thePolitburowereinternallydemocraticandruledtheparty,whichruledoverthestate,whichruledoverthepeople.ThenthemembersofthePolitburowould
constitutetheSovietpopulus,andtheSovietstatewouldbe,onSchumpeter'sinterpretation,ademocracy.

Hisdefinitionthusleavesuswithnoparticularreasonforwantingtoknow



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whetherasystemis"democratic"ornot.Indeed,ifademoscanbeatinygroupthatexercisesabrutaldespotismoveravastsubjectpopulation,then"democracy"is
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conceptually,morally,andempiricallyindistinguishablefromautocracy.ThusSchumpeter'ssolutionistrulynosolutionatall,foritsupshotisthattherearesimplyno
principlesforjudgingwhetheranyoneisunjustlyexcludedfromcitizenship.Buttheargumentleads,aswehaveseen,toabsurdities.

TheseconsequencesfollowbecauseSchumpeterfailedtodistinguish,indeedinsistedonconflating,twodifferentkindsofpropositions:

SystemXisdemocraticinrelationtoitsowndemos.

SystemYisdemocraticinrelationtoeveryonesubjecttoitsrules.

PerhapsbecausehewasconvincedbyhistoricalexperiencethatnostatelikeYhadeverexistedorwaslikelyto,hefeltthatany"realistic"theoryofdemocracy,such
asheproposed,couldscarcelyrequirethata"democracy"beasystemlikeY.Forifthisrequirementwereimposed,thennodemocraticstatewould,orprobablyever
could,exist.Butbycarryinghistoricismandmoralrelativismtotheirlimits,heobliteratedthepossibilityofanyusefuldistinctionbetweendemocracy,aristocracy,
oligarchy,andonepartydictatorship.

CitizenshipAsaCategoricalRight

Schumpeter'ssolution,orrathernonsolution,wastoallowademostodrawanylineitchoosesbetweenitselfandothermembers.Supposeinsteadthatonewereto
insistthatnoonesubjecttotherulesofthedemosshouldbeexcludedfromthedemos.Thenthedemoswouldbeexactlyequivalenttothemembershipofthe
association.

ItispossibletointerpretLocke,Rousseau,andalongsuccessionofwriterstheyinfluencedasadvancingasolutionalongtheselines.2 Theargumentisgroundedon
themoralaxiomthatnopersonoughttobegovernedwithouthisconsent,or,withRousseau,requiredtoobeylawsthatarenotofhisownmakinginsomegenuine
sense.Indevelopingtheargument,writershavefounditusefultodistinguishbetweentheinitialactofformingthepolity(society,association,community,city,orstate)
andthesubsequentprocessofmakingandenforcingtherulesofthepolity.ThusbothLockeandRousseauheldthattheinitialformationrequirestheagreementof
everyonewhoistobesubjecttoitthereafter,however,lawscouldbeenactedandenforcediftheyareendorsedbyamajority.Bothsoughttoexplainwhy,even
thoughunanimityisrequiredinthefirstinstance,thereafteramajorityissufficient.Iwishtoignorethisquestion,formyconcernhereisadifferentone:Inspeakingof
agreementby"all"ora"majority,"whatisthecollectionofpersonstowhichtheyrefer?Does"theconsentofeveryindividual"and"thedeterminationofthemajority''
ofsuchindividuals3 literallyrefertoeverymember,inthesensethatamajoritymustbeamajorityofeverypersonsubjecttothelaws?

Clearly,neitherLockenorRousseaumeanttoimplythisconclusion.Tobegin



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with,childrenareofcoursetobeexcludedfromthedemos.Theexclusionofchildrenfromthedemosissooftentakenasunproblematicalthatonehardlynoticeshow
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muchtheclaimtocitizenshipbasedonacategoricalrightofallpersonsiscontradictedbythissimpleexclusion,foritismadeonthegroundsthatchildrenarenot
competenttogovernthemselvesorthecommunity.Yetifwepermittheexclusionofchildrenfromthedemos(andwhoseriouslydoesnot?)thenweallowacontingent
element,basedonqualificationforgoverning,tolimittheuniversalityoftheclaimbasedoncategoricalright.Nevermindletusmomentarilyignorethisdifficulty,though
Iintendtoreturntoit.

Suppose,then,thattheclaimbasedonacategoricalrightisrevisedtoread:Alladultssubjecttothelawsofastatewouldbemembersofthedemosofthatstate.
Citizenshipisnolongerfullycoextensivewithmembership,butalladultmembersarecitizensbycategoricalright.DidRousseauandLockemeantojustifysucha
claim?

CertainlyRousseaudidnot,thoughitiseasytoseewhytheSocialContractissometimesunderstoodassayingso.ThereRousseauoccasionallyappearstobe
assertinganunqualifiedrighttomembershipinthedemos.4 Rousseaumakesitclearthathemeansnosuchthing.ThushelaudsGeneva,eventhoughitsdemos
consistedofonlyasmallminorityofthepopulation.Childrenwere,ofcourse,excluded.Butsotoowerewomen.Whatismore,amajorityofadultmaleswerealso
excludedfromtheGenevandemos.Rousseauwaswellawareoftheseexclusions.Yetheneithercondemnedthemasinconsistentwithhisprinciplesnorprovided
groundsonwhichtheymightbejustified.Rather,heseemssimplytohavetakenthemforgranted.

Rousseaumay,infact,haveanticipatedSchumpeter'ssolution.InarguingthatitiswrongtotakethegovernmentofVeniceasaninstanceoftruearistocracy,he
remarksthat,althoughtheordinarypeopleinVenicehavenopartinthegovernment,therethenobilitytakestheplaceofthepeople.ThisisSchumpeter'spopulus
definingitself.RousseauthengoesontoshowthatVeniceandGenevaaretrulyalike.ThusthegovernmentofVeniceisactuallynomorearistocraticthanthatof
Geneva(1978,4,chap.3)!

WhatRousseaudoesnotfeelitimportanttosayisthatinbothcitiesthegreatbulkofthepeoplesubjecttothelawswerenotonlyexcludedfromtheexecutionand
administrationofthelaws(thegovernment,inRousseau'sterminology)butalsofromanyparticipationinmakingthelaws.Inneitherrepublicwerethepeoplethatis,
mostpeopleentitledtoassembleinordertovoteonthelawsoreventovoteforrepresentativeswhowouldmakethelaws.Inbothcities,mostpeoplewerethus
subjecttolawstheyhadnopartinmaking.5 OnemightconcludethatneitherrepubliccouldbelegitimateinRousseau'seyes.Butthiswasnothisconclusion,nordid
heevenhintatsuchaninference.

WhatRousseauseemstohaveassumed,asotheradvocatesofdemocracyhaddonesincetheGreekcitystatesofantiquity,isthatalargenumberofpersonsinany
republicchildren,women,foreigners,andmanymaleadultresidentswillbesubjectsbutarenotqualifiedtobecitizens.Inthisway,Rousseauhimself



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underminedthecategoricalprincipleofinclusionthatheappearedtosetforthintheSocialContract.
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Locke'slanguageintheSecondTreatiseisascategoricalanduniversalisticasRousseau's,ifnotmoreso.6 Yethisapparentassertionofanunqualifiedand
categoricalclaimwaslimitedbothexplicitlyandimplicitlybyarequirementastocompetence.Naturally,childrenwereexcludedIshallreturnlatertoLocke's
argumenton"paternalpower."Itishighlydoubtfulthathemeantwomentobeincludedasamatterofright.7 Astoadultmales,heexplicitlyexcluded"lunaticsand
idiots[who]areneversetfreefromthegovernmentoftheirparents"(1970,chap.6,para.60).Inaddition,"slaves...beingcaptivestakeninajustwar,arebythe
rightofnaturesubjectedtotheabsolutedominionandarbitrarypoweroftheirmasters."Heprobablyintendedtoexcludeservantsaswell(chap.7,para.85).Thusa
claimtocitizenshipwasnotcategoricalbut,asitturnsout,contingentonajudgmentastotherelativequalificationsofapersonforparticipatinginthegovernmentof
thecommonwealth.LikeRousseau,Locketorpedoedhisownview(ifindeeditwashisview)thateverypersonsubjecttothelawsmadebythedemospossessesa
categoricalandunqualifiedrighttomembershipinthedemos.

CitizenshipAsContingentOnCompetence

LockeandRousseauappeartohaveadvancedtwodifferentprinciplesonwhichaclaimtocitizenshipmightbegrounded.Oneisexplicit,categorical,anduniversal
theotherisimplicit,contingent,andlimiting:

CATEGORICALPRINCIPLE:Everypersonsubjecttoagovernmentanditslawshasanunqualifiedrighttobeamemberofthedemos(i.e.,acitizen).

CONTINGENTPRINCIPLE:Onlypersonswhoarequalifiedtogovern,butallsuchpersons,shouldbemembersofthedemos(i.e.,citizens).

Ifsomepersonssubjecttothelawsarenotqualifiedtogovern,thenobviouslythetwoprinciplesleadtocontradictoryconclusions.Whichprincipleshouldtake
precedence?Aswehaveseen,LockeandRousseauheld,atleastimplicitly,thatthesecondprincipleshouldtakeprecedenceoverthefirst.

WhatwasonlyormainlyimplicitintheargumentsofLockeandRousseauwasmadeexplicitbyJohnStuartMill,whoopenlyconfrontedtheconflicthebelievedto
existbetweenthetwoprinciples.Likehispredecessorshealsoinsistedthatincaseofconflictthefirstmustgivewaytothesecond.

Tobesure,onacarelessreadingMillcouldbeinterpretedasfavoringthecategoricalprinciple.8 Yet,althoughoncasualinspectionhislanguagehasauniversalistic
tone,infactMilldoesnotendorseacategoricalprincipleofgeneralinclusion.Itishardlysurprisingthathearguesnotfromprinciplesofabstractrightbutratherfrom
considerationsofsocialutility.Hisjudgmentsaremeanttoreflectabalancingofsocialutilitiesanddisutilities.Andwhilehisargumentispowerful,itdoesnotleadhim
toacategoricalprinciplebuttoacontingentandcontestable



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judgmentaboutsocialutility.But,becausethequestionisoneofsocialutility,relativecompetenceisalsoafactortobeweighed.
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AseveryreaderofRepresentativeGovernmentsoondiscovers,itwasMillhimselfwhounderminedhisownargumentforuniversalinclusionbyposinga
counterargumentbasedonconsiderationsofcompetence.Inthecourseofhisdiscussion,heexplicitlyassertedthatthecriterionofcompetencemusttakepriorityover
anyprinciple,whethercategoricalorutilitarian,thatmakesinclusioninthedemosamatterofgeneralrightamongalladultssubjecttothelaws.Ataminimum,he
argued,todemonstratethatpersonsarequalifiedtoengageingoverningrequiresashowingthattheyhave"acquiredthecommonestandmostessentialrequisitesfor
takingcareofthemselves,forpursuingintelligentlytheirowninterestsandthoseofthepersonsmostnearlyalliedtothem."ItwasMill'sjudgmentthat,intheEnglandof
hisday,manycategoriesofadultscouldnotmeetthisstandardandoughtthereforetobedeniedthesuffrageuntiltheyacquiredthecompetencetheyatthattime
lacked(Mill1958,13138).

Bygivingprioritytothecriterionofcompetence,recognizingthecontingentandsociallyspecificnatureofjudgmentsaboutcompetence,andacceptingarestricted
demosastheconsequenceofhisownjudgmentastothequalificationsoffellowEnglishmen,Millbroughtintotheopenaproblemthathadbeenglossedoverbysome
ofhismostillustriouspredecessors.YetinjustifyinganexclusionarydemosMilldidnomorethanmakeimplicitwhathadgenerallybeenimplicitinallprevious
democratictheoryandpractice.

TheformalopportunitiesforparticipationavailabletocitizensinthedemocraticcitystatesofGreece,theuniversalisticlanguageinwhichdemocraticbeliefsareoften
presented,andtheemphasisonparticipationbyRousseauandMillhaveinducedsomewriterstointerpret"classical"democraticideasasmuchless"elitist"thanthey
actuallywere.9

Onemightchoosetodismisstheselimitsastransitorydeficienciesinarevolutionarynewpoliticalideathattranscendedthehistoricallimitsofactualpractice.But,as
wehaveseen,LockeandRousseauaccepted,andMilldefended,theprinciplethatademosmightproperlyexcludelargenumbersofadultswhoaresubjecttolaws
madebythedemos.Andinprinciplethequalifiedmightbeatinymajority.ThusitisnotonlySchumpeter'ssolutionthatwouldpermitthedemostoshrinkintoaruling
elite.Rousseauhimself,aswesaw,regardedGenevaandVenicebothastruerepublics,governed"bythepeople,"eventhoughinbothcitiesthedemosconstituteda
minorityoftheadults.

Modernadmirersof"classical"democraticideasseemtohavereversedtherelationbetweencitizenshipandcompetenceasitwasgenerallyunderstoodfromthe
GreekstoMill.Inthe"classical"perspectivenoteveryadult,muchlesseveryperson,wasnecessarilyqualifiedtogovernandthustoenterintothedemos.Rather,the
demosconsistedonlyofthosewhowere,intheirownview,qualifiedtogovern.Inthisperspective,itwaspreciselybecausecitizenswereaqualifiedminorityofthe
wholepeoplethattheywereentitledtogovernandcouldonthewholebecountedontogovernwell.



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Asaconsequence,"classical"ideasleavetheintellectualdefenseofdemocracylethallyvulnerable,ascanbereadilyseenifwecontrastitwiththeviewthatinclusionis
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acategoricalright.Ifeveryonesubjecttolawhasacategoricalrighttoparticipateintheprocessofmakinglaws,iftherequirementofconsentisuniversaland
uncontestable,thenthecasefordemocracyisverypowerfulandthecaseagainstexclusionaryalternativesaristocracy,meritocracy,rulebyaqualifiedelite,
monarchy,dictatorship,andsooniscorrespondinglyweakened.Iftheclaimtocitizenshipisacategoricalanduniversalrightofallhumanbeings,thenamongany
humangroupademosalwaysexistsandthatdemosmustalwaysbeinclusive.Toputitanotherway,amonganybodyofpersonswhowishtoestablishormaintainan
associationhavingagovernmentcapableofmakingbindingdecisions,theStrongPrincipleofEqualitythemostcrucialoftheconditionsforthedemocraticprocess
setforthearliermustnecessarilyexist.

Butifthecriterionofcompetenceoverridesaclaimbasedonrights,thentheargumentfordemocracyrestsonmushygrounds.Citizenshipdependsoncontingent
judgments,notcategoricalrights.Andthecontingentjudgmentsneednotleadtouniversalinclusion.Indeed,theboundariesbetweendemocracyontheonesideand
guardianshipontheotherbecomefuzzyandindeterminate.Theargumentsfortheoneortheotherbecomeindistinguishableexceptforacrucialjudgmentastothe
relativemagnitudeofthecompetentmembers.And,aswehaveseen,evenamongpoliticalphilosophersthesecontingentandpracticaljudgmentsareeasilyswayedby
thenarrowprejudicesofone'stime.

ACriterionofInclusiveness

Threequestionsarise:First,isitpossibletogetaroundtheprincipleofcompetenceindecidingontheinclusivenessofthedemos?Second,ifnot,isitpossibletoavoid
thecontingentandcontestablenatureofajudgmentastocompetence?Third,ifagainnot,canwedevelopstrongcriteriathatsuchajudgmentoughttosatisfy?

Thatwecannotgetaroundtheprincipleofcompetenceindecidingontheinclusivenessofthedemosisdecisivelydemonstratedbytheexclusionofchildren.Itis
virtuallyneverargued,nodoubtbecauseitwouldbesoobviouslyuntenable,thatchildreneithermustbemembersofthestate'sdemosoroughtnottobesubjectto
lawsmadebythedemos.SofarasIamaware,nooneseriouslycontendsthatchildrenshouldbefullmembersofthedemosthatgovernsthestate.Aneightyearold
childcanhardlybeenlightenedenoughtoparticipateequallywithadultsindecidingonlawstobeenforcedbythegovernmentofthestate.Yettheselawsareenforced
onchildrenwithouttheirexplicitorimpliedconsent.Itisoftenheldandlegalsystemstendtoreflecttheforceoftheargumentthatbecauseoftheirlimited
competencechildrenshouldnotbesubjecttoexactlythesamelawsasadultstheycannot,forexample,enterintolegallyenforceablecontracts.Yettheyarenot
whollyexemptfromtheenforcementofalllaws.

Childrenthereforefurnishuswithaclearinstanceofviolationoftheprinciplethatagovernmentmustrestontheconsentofthegovernedorthatnooneshouldbe



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subjecttoalawnotofone'sownchoosingorsubjecttoalawmadebyanassociationnotofone'sownchoosing.Yetthisviolationisnearlyalwayseithertakenfor
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grantedorinterpretedasnotactuallyaviolation.Onewayofinterpretingitistosaythattheprincipleofconsentappliesonlytoadults.Butthisistoadmitthatsome
personswhoaresubjecttotherulesofastatecanneverthelessbeproperlyexcludedfromthedemosofthestate.

Onwhatgrounds?Theonlydefensiblegroundonwhichtoexcludechildrenfromthedemosisthattheyarenotyetfullyqualified.Theneedtoexcludechildrenonthis
groundwasofcourseperfectlyobvioustoearlydemocratictheorists.Lockedevotesawholechapterto"PaternalPower."Afterremindingusof"thatequalrightthat
everymanhathtohisnaturalfreedom,withoutbeingsubjecttothewillorauthorityofanyotherman,"heimmediatelyturnstotheexceptions,ofwhichchildrenarethe
mostnumerous,obvious,andimportant(SecondTreatise,paras.55,63,pp.28,31).Rousseaualsorecognizes,thoughmerelyinpassing,theauthorityofthefather
overthechildren"beforetheyreachtheageofreason"(bk.1,chap.4,p.49).

Theexampleofchildrenissufficienttoshowthatthecriterionofcompetencecannotreasonablybeevaded,thatanyreasonableboundingofademosmust,by
excludingchildren,necessarilyexcludealargebodyofpersonssubjecttothelaws,andthatanyassertionofauniversalrightofallpersonstomembershipinademos
cannotbesustained.Itmightbeargued,however,thatchildrenconstituteacomparativelywelldefinedanduniqueexception.10Thus,onceadistinctionisallowed
betweenchildrenandadults,alladultssubjecttothelawsmustbeincluded.

AModifiedCategoricalPrinciple?

Thecategoricalprinciplemightthenberestatedasfollows:

MODIFIEDCATEGORICALPRINCIPLE:Everyadultsubjecttoagovernmentanditslawsmustbepresumedtobequalifiedas,andhasanunqualifiedrighttobe,a
memberofthedemos.

Thereare,however,atleasttwosourcesofdifficultywiththemodifiedcategoricalprinciple.First,theboundarybetweenchildhoodandadulthoodpresentssome
difficulty.Thereisthewellknownarbitrarinessofimposingadichotomychild/adultonaprocessofdevelopmentthatisnotonlycontinuousbutvariesbetween
differentpersons.Thuswemayreasonablydisagreeaboutwhether,onaverage,peoplebecomequalifiedattwentyone,oreighteen,orwhateverandwhateverage
wechoose,wemaydisagreeoverspecificcasesofpersonswhomaturemorerapidlyorlessrapidlythantheaverage.Therearealsothetroublesomecasesforwhich
experience,evenwhenjoinedwithcompassion,pointstonoclearsolution.AsLockeputit:
if,throughdefectsthatmayhappenoutofordinarycourseofNature,anyonecomesnottosuchadegreeofReasonwhereinhemightbesupposedcapableof



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knowingtheLaw,andsolivingwithintherulesofit,heisnevercapableofbeingaFreeMan...butiscontinuedundertheTuitionandGovernmentofothers,allthetimehis
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ownUnderstandingisincapableofthatCharge.AndsoLunaticsandIdiotsareneversetfreefromthegovernmentoftheirParents.(SecondTreatise,chap.6,para.60,pp.32526)

Thusthemodifiedcategoricalprinciplerunstheriskofcircularitybydefining"adults"aspersonswhoarepresumedtobequalifiedtogovern.

Asecondsourceofdifficultywiththemodifiedprincipleiscausedbythepresenceinacountryofforeignerswhomightbeadultbyanyreasonablestandards,whoare
subjecttothelawsofthecountryinwhichtheytemporarilyreside,butwhoarenottherebyqualifiedtoparticipateingoverning.SupposethatFranceisholdingan
electiononSundayandI,anAmerican,arriveinParisonSaturdayasatourist.WouldanyonearguethatIshouldbeentitledtoparticipateintheelection,muchless
acquirealltheotherpoliticalrightsofFrenchcitizenship?Ithinknot.OnwhatgroundscouldIproperlybeexcluded?OnthegroundthatIamunqualified.11

Tosumup:

1.Schumpeter'ssolutiontotheproblemofthecompositionofthedemosisunacceptable,becauseiteffectivelyerasesthedistinctionbetweendemocracyanda
nondemocraticorderdominatedbyacollegialelite.

2.Acategoricalprincipleofinclusionthatoverridestheneedforajudgmentastocompetenceisalsounacceptable,foritisrendereduntenablebysuchcasesas
children,feeblemindedpersons,andforeignersoftemporaryresidence.InsofarasLockeandRousseauadvancedacategoricalprinciple,theirdefenseofitis
unconvincing.However,evidencesuggeststhattheyrecognizedtheseobjectionsandneverintendedtheirargumenttobetakenasarejectionofthepriorityofa
criterionofcompetence.

3.Becauseajudgmentoncompetenceiscontingentonweighingevidenceandmakinginferencesastotheintellectualandmoralqualificationsofspecificcategoriesof
persons,adecisionbasedoncompetenceisinherentlyopentoquestion.Tobesure,areasonableargumentmaybepresentedinbehalfofaparticularjudgmentasto
theproperboundariesofinclusionandexclusion.Buttheexactlocationofanyboundaryisnecessarilyahighlydebatablejudgment,andfromAristotleonwardthe
practicaljudgmentsofpoliticalphilosophershavetendedtoreflecttheprejudicesoftheirtimes.EvenJ.S.Mill,whosesupportforbroadeningtheboundariesof
politicalparticipationwasexceptionalforapersonofhisclass,nonethelesspresentedpersuasivereasonstojustifytheparticularexclusionsheadvocatedyetprobably
fewcontemporarydemocratswouldaccepthisexclusionsasreasonable.

Inshort,ifSchumpeter'ssolutionleadstoabsurdities,thesolutionsfoundinearlierdemocraticideas,whetherinclassicalantiquityorintheworksofearlymodern
theoristslikeLocke,Rousseau,andMill,providealltoofragileafoundationforasatisfactorynormativetheoryofthedemocraticprocess.Thoughevi



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dentlywemustaccepttheneedforajudgmentoncompetence,anditscontingentandcontestablenature,werequireacriterionthatwillhelptoreducethe
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arbitrarinessofsuchajudgment.

AJustificationforInclusiveness

Althoughtheweaknessesofcategoricalprinciplesofinclusionmeanthatwecannotavoidcontingentjudgments,thegroundsforadoptingtheStrongPrincipleof
Equalitysetoutinthelastchapterobviouslyjustifyabroadcriterionofinclusiveness.AsIhavealreadysaid,inadoptingtheStrongPrincipleasanassumptionofa
democraticprocess,ineffectweaffirmthatalladultsshouldbeincluded,subjectonlytosuchexceptionsasmayfailtosatisfythepresumptionofpersonalautonomy.

Experiencehasshownthatanygroupofadultsexcludedfromthedemosforexample,women,artisansandlaborers,theunpropertied,racialminoritieswillbe
lethallyweakenedindefendingitsowninterests.Andanexclusivedemosisunlikelytoprotecttheinterestsofthosewhoareexcluded."Universalteachingmust
precedeuniversalenfranchisement,"Millwrote(1958,132).Butitwasnotuntilaftertheextensionofthesuffragein1868thatParliamentpassedthefirstact
establishingpublicelementaryschools.Thehistoricalrecordsincethendemonstratesevenmorefullythatwhenalargeclassofadultsisexcludedfromcitizenshiptheir
interestswillalmostcertainlynotbegivenequalconsideration.Perhapsthemostconvincingevidenceisprovidedbytheexclusionofsouthernblacksfrompoliticallife
intheUnitedStatesuntilthelate1960s.

InadoptingtheStrongPrincipleofEquality,wehavealreadytakenconsiderationsliketheseintoaccount.Thatprinciple,andtheassumptionsfromwhichitisderived,
providereasonablegroundsforadoptingacriterionthatapproachesuniversalityamongadults.ItisnotonlyverymuchlessarbitrarythanSchumpeter'ssolutionbutfar
moreinclusivethantherestricteddemosthatwasaccepted,implicitlyorexplicitly,intheclassicalpolisandbyAristotle,Locke,Rousseau,orMill.Thefifthandfinal
criterionforthedemocraticprocessis,then,asfollows:

Thedemosmustincludealladultmembersoftheassociationexcepttransientsandpersonsprovedtobementallydefective.

Admittedlythedefinitionofadultsandtransientsisapotentialsourceofambiguity.Probablynodefinitionoftheterm"adult"canbecompletelywatertight.Apractical
testmightbetotreateverymemberasanadultwhodoesnotsufferfromaseverementaldisabilityorwhoisconsideredanadultincriminallaw.Ifalegalsystem
assignsburdens,obligations,andpunishmentstopersonswhentheyreachanageatwhichtheyarelegallypresumedtohaveachievedtheminimumthresholdofreason
andresponsibilityfortheiractions,thenthatagemightalsoserveasthethresholdatwhichtherighttoinclusioninthedemosoughttobegin.

Themeaningofthecriterionseemstometobeclearenough:Ademosthatpermittedtheconceptofadulthoodtobemanipulatedinordertodeprivecertain



law.

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personsoftheirrightsdissenters,forexampletothatdegreewouldsimplyfailtomeetthecriterionofinclusiveness.
Copyright 1989. Yale University Press. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced in any form without permission from the publisher, except fair uses permitted under U.S. or applicable copyright

Takenwiththeotherfourcriteriapresentedinchapter8,inclusivenesscompletestherequirementsforademocraticprocess.Thesefivecriteriafullyspecifythe
democraticprocess.ForIfinditimpossibletosayinwhatrespectsaprocessmeetingthesecriteriawouldnotbedemocraticorhowanyprocessthatfailedtosatisfy
oneormoreofthecriteriacouldberegardedasfullydemocratic.

TheoryoftheDemocraticProcess

Letmenowsummarizetheargumentofthischapterandanticipateafewobjectionsandproblems.

Thecriteriahelpustodistinguishseveralthresholdsthathaveoftengivenrisetoconfusion.Aswesaw,Schumpeterfailedtodistinguishbetweenapoliticalsystemthat
isdemocraticinrelationtoitsowndemosandonethatisdemocraticinrelationtoeveryonesubjecttoitsrules.Apoliticalprocessthatmeetsonlythefirsttwocriteria,
Ihavesuggested,mightberegardedasprocedurallydemocraticinanarrowsense.Incontrast,onethatalsomeetsthecriterionofenlightenedunderstandingcanbe
regardedasfullydemocraticwithrespecttoanagendaandinrelationtoademos.Atastillhigherthreshold,aprocessthatinadditionprovidesforfinalcontrol
oftheagendabyitsdemosisfullydemocraticinrelationtoitsdemos.Butonlyifthedemoswereinclusiveenoughtomeetthefifthcriterioncouldwedescribethe
processofdecisionmakingasfullydemocratic.

Justasthecriteriafullyspecifythedemocraticprocess,soIbelievetheyfullyspecifywhatweoughttomeanbypoliticalequality.Totheextentthatthecriteriaare
notmet,thenpersonscouldhardlybesaidtobepoliticallyequaland,insofarasanyprocessofdecisionmakingcaneverensurepoliticalequality,personsamong
whomthecriteriaaremetwouldsurelybepoliticequals.

Theassumptionsandthecriteriaforademocraticprocessdonotspecifyanyparticularkindofassociation.Theimplicationisthatinanyassociationforwhichthe
assumptionsarevalid,thedemocraticprocess,andonlythedemocraticprocess,wouldbejustified.Historically,however,advocatesofdemocracyhavefocusedtheir
attentiononthestate.Theywererighttodoso.Whetherornotthestateisthemostimportantofallhumanassociations,itiswithoutquestionhighlycrucial.Itiscrucial
becauseofitsextraordinaryinfluence,power,andauthority,andthusbecauseofthecapacityofthosewhogovernthestatetocontroltheresources,structures,
agendas,anddecisionsofallotherassociationswithintheboundariesofthestate.Apeoplethatalienatesitsfinalcontrolovertheagendaanddecisionsofthe
governmentofthestaterunsaveryhighriskofalienatingitsfinalcontroloverotherimportantassociationsaswell.

Becauseafamiliarobjectiondiscussedinthelastchapterislikelytoberenewedatthispoint,perhapsIneedtodisposeofitonceagain.Dothecriteriamerelyspecify
a"formal"butnota"real"politicalequalityanddemocraticprocess?Supposecitizensarehighlyunequalintheirpoliticalresourcesincome,wealth,



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status,forexample.Wouldtheynotbeunequalpolitically?Ofcoursetheymightandverylikelywouldbe.Yetitisaseriousmistaketoobjecttothecriteriaonthis
Copyright 1989. Yale University Press. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced in any form without permission from the publisher, except fair uses permitted under U.S. or applicable copyright

ground.Forwhendifferencesinpoliticalresourcescausecitizenstobepoliticallyunequal,thenthatinequalitynecessarilyrevealsitselfbyaviolationofthecriteria.
Indeed,totheextentthatonebelievesthatthecriteriaspecifyadesirablepoliticalorder,thenonemustbeconcernedaboutthesocial,economic,andcultural
prerequisitesforsuchanorder,aproblemweexaminelateron.

Onemightalsowonderwhetheranysystemcanhopetomeetthecriteriafully.And,ifnot,ofwhatrelevancearethecriteria?NowItakeitforgrantedthat,inthereal
world,nosystemwillfullymeetthecriteriaforademocraticprocess.Atbestanyactualpolityislikelytoachievesomethingofanapproximationtoafullydemocratic
process.Myguessisthatanyapproximationwillfallprettyfarshortofmeetingthecriteria.However,thecriteriaserveasstandardsagainstwhichonemaycompare
alternativeprocessesandinstitutionsinordertojudgetheirrelativemerits.Thecriteriadonotcompletelydefinewhatwemeanbyagoodpolityoragoodsociety.But
totheextentthatthedemocraticprocessisworthwhile,thenthecriteriawillhelpustoarriveatjudgmentsthatbeardirectlyontherelativeworthorgoodnessof
politicalarrangements.



law.

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