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The Instability of Democratic Contractarianism

Howard, Jeffrey (2015) 'The Instability of Democratic Contractarianism.' Political Studies Review, 13 (2). pp. 184-195. ISSN 1478-9299

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Abstract

Democratic contractarianism aspires to unite two previously unconnected strands in political philosophy: a democratic commitment to a social world in which citizens wield equal power; and a contractarian commitment to a strictly prudential justification of political morality. It is argued in this article that the commitment to democratic equality is theoretically unmotivated and risks limiting the applicability of the view to societies in which equal bargaining power already obtains. It is also argued that the view cannot account for why a political order governed by democratic contractarianism will be stable over time. Ultimately, it is suggested that these problems are traceable to a fundamental incompatibility between the two dimensions of democratic contractarianism. The view can be democratic, and it can be contractarian, but it cannot be both.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: democracy; contactarianism; contractualism; stability
Subjects: J Political Science > JA Political science (General)
Divisions: Faculty of Social Sciences > Government, Department of
Depositing User: Jim Jamieson
Date Deposited: 15 May 2015 15:18
Last Modified: 15 May 2015 15:18
URI: http://repository.essex.ac.uk/id/eprint/13706

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