Wednesday, July 09, 2008

RC on what is democracy

Richard C has written a short paper on what is democracy .

here is his conclusion

the key passages seem to be
"[I] understand democracy as a meritocratic form of government which utilizes the rational capacities of everyone (insofar as they are able)"

And in as far as you accept that then you get as he observes, counter intuitive examples of democracies which are lead by few who would consider your opinion if only you were smarter.

His habit here of defining a word and then defending that definition as a fact of language* still bothers me and will surely loose the attention of a lot of readers.
But at least in this paper he has addressed the main objections (although I found the reference to Parfit to be waffle - surely one doesn't need to reinvent the justification for collectivism in this paper. The inclusion of the collectivist perspective makes for a much better paper than his original posts implied, it is as if he took on board some of my comments.

As usual a lot of the work is done by what he assumes are changeable and unchangeable facts. for example the probably reasonable assumption that factions will form, and the probably unreasonable assumption that dogmatism, will to power and transaction costs can be made negligible.

If it was me, I'd stay closer to the topic, reference much more, construct explicitly and defend the model (e.g. the assumptions above), and I'd change the topic to something more like "how should democracy work" or "the rational state". But as I said I like this more than the posts - maybe it will continue to move in that direction and become more robust.


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