New articles on freedom as a non-instrumental value of democracy – University of Copenhagen

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24 June 2015

New articles on freedom as a non-instrumental value of democracy

Christian Rostbøll recently published two articles on the value of democracy:

Rostbøll, Christian F. "The Non-Instrumental Value of Democracy: The Freedom Argument," Constellations, 22, no. 2 (2015): 267-278.

A current debate in democratic theory concerns whether we can explain democratic legitimacy purely with reference to the intrinsic value of the public affirmation of equality, or whether we must invoke extra-democratic epistemic standards to do so. The freedom side of democracy is ignored or even rejected in this debate. But in order to understand the intrinsic value of democracy, we cannot ignore the relationship between freedom and democracy. Moreover, the freedom argument can better respond to the epistemic challenge to intrinsic accounts than can the equality argument. However, the freedom argument for democracy must be refined to avoid important objections to the idea that democracy can make citizens self-governing. The proposed freedom argument is based on notions of autonomy and freedom that have their root in the relational norm of not having another person as a master.

Rostbøll, Christian F. “Nondomination and Democratic Legitimacy,” Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy (2015).

While many regard equality as the moral foundation of democracy, republican theory grounds democracy in freedom as non-domination. The grounding of democracy in freedom has been criticized for relying on either an Aristotelian perfectionism or a Rousseauian equation of the people in their collective capacity and the people understood severally. The republican theory of freedom and democracy has the resources to meet these criticisms. But the most systematic elaboration of republicanism, that of Philip Pettit, achieves this by turning the relationship between freedom and democracy into an instrumental relationship in a manner open to objections. Instead, republicanism should offer a justification of democracy that also has a non-instrumental dimension. This revised republican freedom argument for democracy has advantages compared to the equality argument for democracy, including a better explanation of democratic procedures.