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John S. Dryzek on Democracy - Dictionary of Arguments

Gaus I 143
Democracy/Dryzek: Adversarial, aggregative, associative, capitalist, Christian, classical, communicative, communitarian, consensual, consociational, constitutional, contestatory, corporatist, cosmopolitan, delegative, deliberative, developmental, difference, direct,
discursive, ecological, economic, electoral, elitist, epistemic, feminist, global, grassroots, green,
juridical, industrial, legal, liberal, local, majoritarian, minimalist, parliamentary, participatory,
peoples' , pluralist, populist, presidential, procedural, property-owning, protective, push-button, radical, reflective, representative, social, strong, thin, transnational and unitary are all adjectives that can be, and have been, attached to democracy.
Dryzek: The categories represented by the adjectives are not mutually exclusive. While there are some obvious binary oppositions (...), many combinations are plausible and have their advocates
and critics. The categories represented by these adjectives are not collectively exhaustive. The conversation about democratic development shows no signs of closure.
Boundaries: While covering a lot of territory, democratic theory is not completely unbounded. Contributors to the enterprise all address questions pertaining to the collective construction, distribution, application, and limitation of political authority. >Democratic theory/Dryzek.
Gaus I 144
(...) part of what makes democracy interesting in both theory and practice is contestation over its essence. (...) any search for the essential meaning of democracy is undermined by conceptual historians who point to the inevitable historical contingency of key political concepts like democracy (Hanson, 1989)(1), and how democracy's meaning is itself constitutive of politics at particular times and laces. >Deliberative democracy/Dryzek.
Gaus I 148
Problems with deliberation and democracy: If democracy involves aggregation (however much it is downplayed by deliberative democrats), that can be across judgements and not just across preferences as emphasized in social choice theory. Such judgements can involve disagreement over (say) what is in the common good. This epistemic way of thinking about democracy is associated with Rousseau, according to whom the general will can be ascertained by voting. Bernard Grofman and Scott Feld (1988)(2) argue that if indeed there is such a thing as the common good, though people differ in their judgements about which option will best serve it, then Condorcet's jury theorem applies.
Jury theorem/Condorcet/Dryzek: This theorem demonstrates that if each citizen has a better than even chance of being correct in his/her judgement, then the larger the number of voters, the greater the chance of the majority choosing the correct option. The jury theorem therefore justifies the rationality of majoritarian democracy, at least in a republican context of a search for the common good, though only if each citizen reaches and exercises independent judgement. So there should be no factions (which reduce the effective number of voters) and, it might seem, no communication. These, at least, were Rousseau's own views: deliberation should only be a matter of internal reflection, not communication. However, as Robert Goodin (2002(3): 125) and others point out, discussion is fine so long as people then subsequently exercise their own independent judgements when voting.


1. Hanson, Russell L. (1989) 'Democracy'. In Terence Ball, James Farr and Russell L. Hanson, eds, Political Innovation and Conceptual Change. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
2. Grofman, Bernard and Scott Feld (1988) 'Rousseau's general will: a Condorcetian perspective'. American Political Science Review, 82: 567-76.
3 Goodin, Robert E. (2002) Reflective Democracy. Oxford: Oxford University Press.


Dryzek, John S. 2004. „Democratic Political Theory“. In: Gaus, Gerald F. & Kukathas, Chandran 2004. Handbook of Political Theory. SAGE Publications


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Explanation of symbols: Roman numerals indicate the source, arabic numerals indicate the page number. The corresponding books are indicated on the right hand side. ((s)…): Comment by the sender of the contribution. Translations: Dictionary of Arguments
The note [Author1]Vs[Author2] or [Author]Vs[term] is an addition from the Dictionary of Arguments. If a German edition is specified, the page numbers refer to this edition.
Dryzek, John S.
Gaus I
Gerald F. Gaus
Chandran Kukathas
Handbook of Political Theory London 2004


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