The Rule of the Many: Fundamental Issues in Democractic Theory

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Westview Press, 1996 - Political Science - 310 pages
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There is no problem more crucial to contemporary political thought than the status of democracy, its role, and its problems in the contemporary world. In this survey of democratic theory, Thomas Christiano introduces the reader to the principles underlying democracy and to the problems involved in applying these principles to real-life situations. Beginning with the simple, democratically inspired presumption that the interests of all citizens are to be treated equally, Christiano argues that the implications of such a minimal commitment clarify the nature of democracy and what must be demanded of democratic institutions. He argues that it is the collision of this demand for equality with the fact of pluralism of interests that determines how democratic institutions ought to be designed. This strong sense of reality will be welcomed by those interested in practical questions of transition in newly democratizing states. Christiano combines a broad coverage of important positions taken by others with the exposition of his own ideas, allowing his text to appeal to a wide range of readers, from introductory students to experienced scholars. Clear, accessible, and often elegant, The Rule of the Many is a splendid introduction to democratic theory, one that will take its place as both an important scholarly contribution and an effective and an effective text.

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User Review  - thcson - LibraryThing

This is a comprehensive book on the theoretical problems of democratic politics. I particularly liked its emphasis on questions of representation and political knowledge, two subjects which I have not ... Read full review


The Plan of the Book
The Challenge of the Modern State to Political
The Challenge of the Modern State to Rational
Rational Social Deliberation and the Political Division
A Normative Conception of Citizenship
Interest Groups and Political Parties as Institutions
The Primacy of the Deliberative Function of Secondary
Legislative Autonomy
Equality in the Process of Social Deliberation
Selected Bibliography
About the Book and Author

The Economic Conception of Citizenship

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Page 279 - But when men have realized that time has upset many fighting faiths, they may come to believe even more than they believe the very foundations of their own conduct that the ultimate good desired is better reached by free trade in ideas...
Page 84 - Wrong opinions and practices gradually yield to fact and argument : but facts and arguments, to produce any effect on the mind, must be brought before it. Very few facts are able to tell their own story, without comments to bring out their meaning. The whole strength and value, then, of human judgment, depending...
Page 44 - Can we seriously say, that a poor peasant or artisan has a free choice to leave his country, when he knows no foreign language or manners, and lives, from day to day, by the small wages which he acquires? We may as well assert that a man, by remaining in a vessel, freely consents to the dominion of the master; though he was carried on board while asleep, and must leap into the ocean and perish, the moment he leaves her.
Page 75 - Moreover, there are some arts whose products are not judged of solely, or best, by the artists themselves, namely those arts whose products are recognized even by those who do not possess the art; for example, the knowledge of the house is not limited to the builder only; the user, or, in other words, the master, of the house will be even a better judge than the builder, just as the pilot will judge better of a rudder than the carpenter, and the guest will judge better of a feast than the cook.
Page 134 - the democratic method is that institutional arrangement for arriving at political decisions in which individuals acquire the power to decide by means of a competitive struggle for the people's vote."2 This account of the "democratic method" intentionally assigns a very small role to the citizenry of a democratic society.
Page 83 - He is called upon, while so engaged, to weigh interests not his own; to be guided, in case of conflicting claims, by another rule than his private partialities; to apply, at every turn, principles and maxims which have for their reason of existence the common good...
Page 32 - When therefore the opinion that is contrary to. my own prevails, this proves neither more nor less than that I was mistaken, and that what I thought to be the general will was not so.
Page 32 - If my particular opinion had carried the day I should have achieved the opposite of what was my will; and it is in that case that I should not have been free.
Page 84 - In the case of any person whose judgment is really deserving of confidence, how has it become so ? Because he has kept his mind open to criticism of his opinions and conduct.
Page 84 - Because he has felt, that the only way in which a human being can make some approach to knowing the whole of a subject...

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About the author (1996)

Thomas Christiano is associate professor of philosophy at the University of Arizona and the author of several influencial papers on ethics and political philosophy. Thomas Christiano is associate professor of philosophy at the University of Arizona and the author of several influencial papers on ethics and political philosophy.

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