ISBN-10:
0691143242
ISBN-13:
9780691143248
Pub. Date:
08/23/2009
Publisher:
Princeton University Press
Democratic Authority: A Philosophical Framework

Democratic Authority: A Philosophical Framework

by David Estlund
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Overview

Democracy is not naturally plausible. Why turn such important matters over to masses of people who have no expertise? Many theories of democracy answer by appealing to the intrinsic value of democratic procedure, leaving aside whether it makes good decisions. In Democratic Authority, David Estlund offers a groundbreaking alternative based on the idea that democratic authority and legitimacy must depend partly on democracy's tendency to make good decisions.

Just as with verdicts in jury trials, Estlund argues, the authority and legitimacy of a political decision does not depend on the particular decision being good or correct. But the "epistemic value" of the procedure—the degree to which it can generally be accepted as tending toward a good decision—is nevertheless crucial. Yet if good decisions were all that mattered, one might wonder why those who know best shouldn't simply rule.

Estlund's theory—which he calls "epistemic proceduralism"—avoids epistocracy, or the rule of those who know. He argues that while some few people probably do know best, this can be used in political justification only if their expertise is acceptable from all reasonable points of view. If we seek the best epistemic arrangement in this respect, it will be recognizably democratic—with laws and policies actually authorized by the people subject to them.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780691143248
Publisher: Princeton University Press
Publication date: 08/23/2009
Edition description: New Edition
Pages: 312
Sales rank: 1,217,532
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 9.20(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

David M. Estlund is professor of philosophy at Brown University.

Table of Contents

Preface ix

CHAPTER I: Democratic Authority 1

CHAPTER II: Truth and Despotism 21

CHAPTER III: An Acceptability Requirement 40

CHAPTER IV: The Limits of Fair Procedure 65

CHAPTER V: The Flight from Substance 85

CHAPTER VI: Epistemic Proceduralism 98

CHAPTER VII: Authority and Normative Consent 117

CHAPTER VIII: Original Authority and the Democracy/Jury Analogy 136

CHAPTER IX: How Would Democracy Know? 159

CHAPTER X: The Real Speech Situation 184

CHAPTER XI: Why Not an Epistocracy of the Educated? 206

CHAPTER XII: The Irrelevance of the Jury Theorem 223

CHAPTER XIII: Rejecting the Democracy/Contractualism Analogy 237

ChAPTER XIV: Utopophobia: Concession and Aspiration in Democratic Theory 258

Notes 277

Bibliography 295

Index 303

What People are Saying About This

Joshua Cohen

David Estlund defends democracy for its ability to make good decisions without handing things over to experts. This book is original, imaginative, and filled with subtle and compelling philosophical argument. A wonderful book, and an important one.
Joshua Cohen, Stanford University

Philip Pettit

This book breaks new ground, developing an overall view of democratic procedure, in particular of its legitimacy, that really has no precedent in the literature. It will stand as the canonical defense of epistemic proceduralism.
Philip Pettit, Princeton University

From the Publisher

"This book breaks new ground, developing an overall view of democratic procedure, in particular of its legitimacy, that really has no precedent in the literature. It will stand as the canonical defense of epistemic proceduralism."—Philip Pettit, Princeton University

"David Estlund's book is original, ambitious, thoughtful, and thought-provoking. It is an important and philosophically nuanced contribution to democratic theory."—Christian List, London School of Economics and Political Science

"David Estlund defends democracy for its ability to make good decisions without handing things over to experts. This book is original, imaginative, and filled with subtle and compelling philosophical argument. A wonderful book, and an important one."—Joshua Cohen, Stanford University

Christian List

David Estlund's book is original, ambitious, thoughtful, and thought-provoking. It is an important and philosophically nuanced contribution to democratic theory.
Christian List, London School of Economics and Political Science

Sunstein

A brilliant book, and indispensable reading for anyone interested in democratic theory. Estlund's careful treatment of the 'wisdom of crowds' and the idea of deliberative democracy stands out as a particularly large advance. One of the very few truly major contributions to democratic theory in the last quarter century.
Cass R. Sunstein, Harvard Law School

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