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Semester 2 Notes - Democracy

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Political Science
Political Science 1020E
Charles Jones

Why Democracy? • Two types of reason for valuing democracy o Intrinsic reasons: in itself, there is something good about democracy (apart from the consequences it may produce) o Instrumental reasons: there are consequences that provide reasons in support of it Intrinsic Reason • First intrinsic reason: Self-rule o Democracy embodies a commitment to freedom or self-rule o Democracy = individuals ruling themselves o Autonomy = giving laws to oneself • Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778) o We 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 o Government 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 o Objection: democracy in not a form of freedom  Those on the losing side are subject to laws they do not give themselves  ‘Majority rule’ means the minority are not self-ruling  Therefore those in the minority are not free o Reply to objection  Democracy provides more autonomy than any other decision procedure  Democracy gives every citizen the opportunity to participate in law-making  Everyone has an equal say to the crucial part of the election process • Second intrinsic reason: equality o Democracy embodies a commitment to treating all as moral equals o Democracy = equal entitlement to participate (equal voice) o Politics for a society of equals o Egalitarian = favour equality o Against subordination and exclusion  No natural subordination  Inclusion of all adults equally in reaching collective decisions  Need education and resources to participate effectively o Rousseau’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 o Democracy produces better results than its alternatives o No famine in a democracy with a free press o The democratic peace hypothesis: democracy can help to avoid war because democracies fight but don’t fight each other o Accountability and interest protection  Dictators need not take the people’s interests into account  Accountability to citizens constrains democratic leaders  Problem: unpopular but necessary policies won’t be adopted (e.g. climate change) o Two models of democratic input  What goes into the process shapes what comes out  Market model: giving people what they want  Forum model: deliberation, discussion, cooperative debate o Market model of democracy  Parties offer a menu of options (vote for us and we will...)  Citizens choose what they prefer: they vote for decision makers  Equal influence = equal voting power  Elections are competitions in which parties market themselves to citizens  Result of market model: impoverished debate and citizen incompetence  Schumpeter: Citizens choose experts and experts make the decisions o Forum model of democracy  Emphasizes deliberation  Equal influence = equal opportunity to participate in discussion  Voting reflects wants after they have been changed by reasoning o Our democracy 
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