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PHIL 240 Who Should Rule? - General Issues

Course Code
PHIL 240
Adam Etinson

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General Issues on Democracy
Participatory Democracy
Extension of Rousseau's model in three ways:
1) Increased individual involvement in political discussion and decision-
making; more room for dissent
2) Rethinking Rousseau's distinction between the Sovereign and the Executive
3) People should be consulted on all decisions which affect them
Criticism: groups are better at deliberation, but individuals are better at action
Participatory dem just means all citizens are consulted; there can still be
Bigger groups =/= better deliberation; small and knowledgeable
group could be better
Criticism: who sets agenda?
People can vote on agenda
Who sets agenda for that? Infinite regress...
Criticism: costs too much time for the individual; we enjoy having political say, but
also other things
Representative Democracy
People elect administrators, who both decide and carry out the law.
Mill: two purposes of government – to “improve” the citizens (morally and
intellectually) and to manage their public affairs
Mill argues that despotism leads to passivity and inaction, for it results in a people
who have no need to educate/inform themselves of politics -> negative effect on
the state's prosperity
Mill emphasizes need for citizens to be educated to citizenship
Mill's threats to rep dem:
1) Unworthy/unfit people standing for election
The qualities most successful in politics – flattery, manipulation – are the ones we
least want to see in leaders
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