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Political Science 1020E Lecture Notes - Equal Voice, Equal Opportunity, Joseph Schumpeter

Political Science
Course Code
Political Science 1020E
Charles Jones

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Why Democracy?
Two types of reason for valuing democracy
oIntrinsic reasons: in itself, there is something good about democracy
(apart from the consequences it may produce)
oInstrumental reasons: there are consequences that provide reasons in
support of it
Intrinsic Reason
First intrinsic reason: Self-rule
oDemocracy embodies a commitment to freedom or self-rule
oDemocracy = individuals ruling themselves
oAutonomy = giving laws to oneself
Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778)
oWe can be coerced and free
Coercion: we are forced to comply with laws
Freedom: In a democracy, laws are self-imposed
Freedom is not doing what you want but following a rule you
give yourself
Therefore, coercion is compatible with freedom
oGovernment and legislation
Rousseau opposes democratic government because he thinks
executing power should be held by the few
Rousseau supports democratic legislation because he thinks the
people should make their own laws
oObjection: democracy in not a form of freedom
Those on the losing side are subject to laws they do not give
‘Majority rule’ means the minority are not self-ruling
Therefore those in the minority are not free

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oReply to objection
Democracy provides more autonomy than any other decision
Democracy gives every citizen the opportunity to participate in
Everyone has an equal say to the crucial part of the election
Second intrinsic reason: equality
oDemocracy embodies a commitment to treating all as moral equals
oDemocracy = equal entitlement to participate (equal voice)
oPolitics for a society of equals
oEgalitarian = favour equality
oAgainst subordination and exclusion
No natural subordination
Inclusion of all adults equally in reaching collective decisions
Need education and resources to participate effectively
oRousseau’s ‘General Will
Citizens motivated by impartial concern for the public good
You should ask yourself: “what’s best for the community?”
Should not vote out of self-interest or out of what they want but
should look at the greater good when making political decisions
Talks about a ‘civil religion’ that everyone should adopt, where
they could pick any tolerant religion but had to follow it strictly
“The common good”
Instrumental Reasons
First Instrumental Reason: Better Decisions
oDemocracy produces better results than its alternatives
oNo famine in a democracy with a free press
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