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Democracy and diversity: political theories, liberalisms and modi vivendi

Buchanan-Smith, Andrew 2011. Democracy and diversity: political theories, liberalisms and modi vivendi. PhD Thesis, Cardiff University.

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This thesis explores the role of democracy, i.e. electoral and deliberative democracy, in pluralist societies. I begin by hypothesising that democracy may function as a ‘political theory’ (‘political’ in the sense used by Rawls in Political Liberalism) and ask whether adherents of different comprehensive worldviews could endorse democracy on that basis. I consider the discomfort that liberals, adherents of one particular worldview, have with democracy. I note that Berlin’s account of value pluralism may offer an understanding that allows liberals to value democracy. I consider justifications for electoral democracy (procedural and instrumental) and for deliberative democracy. I claim that procedural justifications for electoral democracy fail arguing that, in valuing democracy because of the alleged freedom given to individuals to influence political decision-making, procedural justifications misrepresent democracy. Rather electoral democracy is about different collective endeavours (i.e. the attempts to elect different candidates). Individual involvement is in the form of the opportunity to contribute to those collective endeavours but such opportunities are not of equal value and, thus, are not morally significant. I argue that deliberative democracy cannot function as a political theory. However, there are weighty arguments for electoral democracy on account of its instrumental value. The relationship, though, between an instrumentalist electoral democracy and comprehensive worldviews is necessarily problematic. Given the contingent nature of democratic outcomes, these will clash with the imperatives of comprehensive doctrines. For that reason and others, liberals and holders of other comprehensive doctrines do not relate to democracy as a political theory. I turn to an account of political settlements as modi vivendi. I argue that democracy is best understood as a component of modi vivendi. Liberals will still have difficulties with democracy but liberals have problems with any non-liberal outcome unless they accept a broadly Berlinian approach.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Status: Unpublished
Schools: English, Communication and Philosophy
Subjects: J Political Science > JC Political theory
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 30 March 2016
Last Modified: 15 Dec 2017 09:03

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