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Does Democratic Theory Need Epistemic Standards?

Grounds for a Purely Procedural Defense of Majority Rule

Carlo Invernizzi-Accetti

possible to justify democratic procedures by relying exclusively on a set of “purely procedural” values ( Dahl 1998 ; Estlund 1997 ; Fabienne 2007 ; Habermas 1994 ; Rawls 1993 ; Shapiro 2003 ; Urbinati and Saffon 2013 ). For the purposes of this

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Sowing the Seeds of Its Own Destruction

Democracy and Democide in the Weimar Republic and Beyond

Mark Chou

That all democracies have, by their very nature, the potential to destroy themselves is a fact too rarely documented by the acolytes of democracy. Indeed, in the brief decades since Joseph Goebbels, then as Reich Minister of Propaganda, reminded the world that it 'will always remain one of the best jokes of democracy, that it gave its deadly enemies the means by which it was destroyed', democrats have quickly forgotten just how precarious a thing democracy can be. The objective of this article is to entertain the underexplored notion that democratic failure is a possibility that remains very much entrenched within the idea and ideal of democracy itself. Using the breakdown of democracy during the Weimar Republic as a brief illustrative example, the article first describes the process through which a democracy can self-destruct before offering a theoretical explanation of why this is so - one which draws its inspiration from the dual notions of autonomy and tragedy. By doing this, it will hope to have shown just how a democracy can, in the course of being democratic no less, sow the seeds of its own destruction.

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Dannica Fleuß and Gary S. Schaal

The article analyzes the (often implicit) understanding of democratic theory that is presupposed by scholars who engage in this practice and provides an answer to the question: “What are we doing when we are doing democratic theory?” We flesh out the core features of this scholarly activity by relating it to and differentiating it from assessments made from the perspective of political philosophy and political science. We argue that democratic theory aims at proposing institutional devices that are (a) problem-solving approaches and (b) embodiments of normative principles. This two-faced structure requires democratic theorists to engage in feedback loops with political philosophy on the one hand and empirical political science on the other. This implies that democratic theorists must adopt a dynamic approach: democratic theories must “fit” societal circumstances. In consequence, they must be adapted in case of fundamental societal transformations. We exemplify this dynamic character by referring to digitalization-induced changes in democratic societies and their implications for democratic theorists’ practice.

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Rianna Oelofsen

the necessary requirement that responsibility ought to be recognised and, as a result of this recognition, that some reparations be made. This payment of reparations can be related to retributivism, as well as to distributive and procedural justice

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The Deliberative Potential of Facultative Referendums

Procedure and Substance in Direct Democracy

Alice el-Wakil

introduced in the initial wave of deliberative democracy theory: as aggregative institutions, these mechanisms would all implement a purely procedural view of democracy incompatible with the deliberative democratic ideal. On the question of procedure and

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Judicial Review in Context

A Response to Counter-majoritarian and Epistemic Critiques

Marcus Schulzke and Amanda Carroll

This essay defends judicial review on procedural grounds by showing that it is an integral part of American democracy. Critics who object to judicial review using counter-majoritarian and epistemic arguments raise important concerns that should shape our understanding of the Supreme Court. Nevertheless, critics often fail to account for the formal and informal mechanisms that overcome these difficulties. Critics also fail to show that other branches of government could use the power of Constitutional interpretation more responsibly. By defending judicial review in the American context, this essay demonstrates that judicial review is not inherently undemocratic.

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Simeon Mitropolitski

Modern political theory, while defining a democratic political regime, puts an emphasis on institutions and procedures. According to this view, whether a particular country is democratic or not depends on the ability of the opposition to oust the incumbent government without leaving the framework of existing institutions and procedures. Cultural values that sustain the democratic polity, including the spirit of political equality, are given much less attention. These values are assumed to be already present, either as a reflection of our similar physical constitution or as a reflection of the presence of democratic political regimes. This research challenges both the monopoly of the procedural understanding of democracy and the lack of particular interest regarding the construction of egalitarian political culture. I claim, first, that the rise of an egalitarian political culture contributes to the establishment of a democratic political regime and, second, that the establishment of modern schools in the late sixteenth century contributed to the construction of this egalitarian political culture.

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Zhuoyao Li

Recent discussions by Martha Nussbaum and Steven Wall shed new light on the concept of reasonableness in political liberalism and whether the inclusion of epistemic elements in the concept necessarily makes political liberalism lose its antiperfectionist appeal. This article argues that Nussbaum’s radical solution to eliminate the epistemic component of reasonableness is neither helpful nor necessary. Instead, adopting a revised understanding of epistemic reasonableness in terms of a weak view of rationality that is procedural, external and second-order rather than a strong view that is substantial, internal and first-order can help political liberalism maintain an epistemic dimension in the idea of reasonableness without becoming perfectionist. In addition, political liberalism can defend a stronger account of respect for persons against liberal perfectionism on the basis of the revised understanding of epistemic reasonableness. Both arguments serve to demonstrate the strength of the political liberal project.

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Mark Chou and Jean-Paul Gagnon

proceduralism. The second article by Robert Farneti explores the shift from fractionalization to polarization in democratic theory and the epistemic leap scholars make from the realm of facts to the realm of normative problems. His article thus engages with

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The Limits of Liberal Democracy

Prospects for Democratizing Democracy

Viviana Asara

. These nodal points, explained below, largely refer to formal democracy and the shrinking of the political, the democracy-rights nexus and the procedural conceptions of democracy, and the role of the environmental and reproductive spheres. Lessenich