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Democracy as the Search for Justice: A Defence of the Democracy/Contractualism Analogy

Howard, JW; (2015) Democracy as the Search for Justice: A Defence of the Democracy/Contractualism Analogy. Political Studies , 63 (1) pp. 259-275. 10.1111/1467-9248.12071. Green open access

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Abstract

This article advances a partially epistemic justification of democratic authority by defending what David Estlund has called the democracy/contractualism analogy: the idea that democracy can track justice due to crucial similarities between effective democratic politics and the hypothetical deliberations employed by contractualist liberals to explicate or construct correct principles of justice. According to this analogy, the collective decision making definitive of democracy is best conceived as an attempt to realise the process of intersubjective justification that (according to contractualist liberals) defines what is just; therefore, any tendency democracy might have to produce just outcomes could conceivably be attributed to the success of such an attempt. This article explains why Estlund's arguments against the analogy fail. It argues that in a society in which the modes of reasoning specified by the analogy are widely entrenched, there is a justifiable presumption that majoritarian voting will have a tendency to result in reasonable outcomes.

Type: Article
Title: Democracy as the Search for Justice: A Defence of the Democracy/Contractualism Analogy
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1111/1467-9248.12071
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1111/1467-9248.12071
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
Keywords: Liberalism, democracy, public reason, David Estlund, T. M. Scanlon
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Dept of Political Science
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1547637
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