Sunday, April 24, 2005

THE LIBERTY DEFENCE: CHRISTIANO'S ATTACK

A defence of democracy can fall into one of three catagories:

liberty: democracy embodies the liberty of its citizens better than any other kind of society. Government and Law are neccesary to solve interraction problems, but these are restrictions upon citiziens. Only when the gov't and law are self-imposed are the citizens free.

equality: democarctic decision making embodies the equality of citizens. each has an equal chance to have a say in decision making, and no other system can offer this.

instrumentalist: democracy is good no because of any intrinsic properties it has but because democracies just tend to produce the best terms of association for a society. reliability and stability, A dictatorship could be ok if it had the same effects.

Christiano argues against the three manifestations of the liberty argument: the direct view, the epistemic view, and the constitutive view:

The Direct View

When I vote for a law I express my preference for the law I wish to live under. If that law is enacted I will be living under my own rule. We may ask of this theory what about those who find themselves ina minority.. are they constrained? Keith Graham points out that democracy maximises the number of people self-governing (ie. the majority), but given this we have to ask why a little political freedom can’t be traded off for more extensive freedoms in other areas. The other argument that direct view philosophers use is to say that by voting one consents to the outcome, and is therefore self-governed. Though this may be the case for some, it isn’t for all – one may reasonably withhold such consent deliberately and still vote. SEE ARTICLES BELOW ON THIS ACCOUNT.

The Epistemic View

Democratic Participation is a process of discovering one’s own will. Everyone wills the common good…what is the common good? Democracy shows us what it is. It is not, however, clear that we do all have a desire to see the common good, or that the common good we desire is one with respect to all people. That democracy is the best way to find out what the common good is relies upon the claim that individuals have roughly equal competence at working the best answer out, and that each individual has a greater than 50% chance of choosing the right option. Link to jury theories.

The Constructive View

The argument here is similar to that above, with the addition that the claim that the results of a democratic process are legitimate because that is what they are, not because of the outcome chosen. If, however, only agreement confers legitimacy, rather than any independent quality of the decision, there is less focus on the need to get the right answer. And, of course, we have to ask why democracy is so special that it confers legitimacy (without getting a circular answer).

Skinner's reply.

Cristiano concluses that the liberty defence fails. Skinner attempts to defend it under the direct approach by saying that the state is neccesary for ensuring negative libery, and that this requires people to act ina certain way. There is no guarantee that people will act in that certain way, as they are irrational, so they have to be directed to act appropriately by the law. 'Unless we place our duties before our rights we will find our rights themseLves undermined'.

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