Aaron J. Ancell
Bentley University
People tend to be biased and irrational about politics. Should this constrain what our normative theories of democracy can require? David Estlund argues that the answer is ‘no’. He contends that even if such facts show that the requirements of a normative theory are very unlikely to be met, this need not imply that the theory is unduly unrealistic. I argue that the application of Estlund’s argument to political irrationality depends on a false presupposition: mainly, that being rational about politics is something people could easily do if they tried. Since the empirical evidence shows that being rational about politics is actually quite difficult, Estlund’s argument comes up short. Moreover, I argue that the argument cannot plausibly be extended to insulate normative theories of democracy from facts about political irrationality because of the need for constraints of realism to explain the crucial role that appeals to disagreement play within such theories.
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1177/1470594x19889108
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 69,114
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

Justice as Fairness: A Restatement.John Rawls (ed.) - 2001 - Harvard University Press.
Rescuing Justice and Equality.G. A. Cohen (ed.) - 2008 - Harvard University Press.
The Enigma of Reason.Dan Sperber & Hugo Mercier (eds.) - 2017 - Cambridge, MA, USA: Harvard University Press.
Against Democracy: New Preface.Jason Brennan - 2016 - Princeton University Press.

View all 28 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Disagreement or Badmouthing? The Role of Expressive Discourse in Politics.Michael Hannon - 2021 - In Elizabeth Edenberg & Michael Hannon (eds.), Political Epistemology. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Should We Be Utopophobes About Democracy in Particular?Patrick Tomlin - 2012 - Political Studies Review 10 (1):36-47.
Rationalität und Normativität.Christine Tiefensee & Johannes Marx - 2015 - Zeitschrift Für Politische Theorie 6:19-37.
From the Folk Theory to Symbolic Politics: Toward a More Realistic Understanding of Voter Behavior.Tali Mendelberg - 2018 - Critical Review: A Journal of Politics and Society 30 (1-2):107-118.
Normative Consent and Authority.Daniel Koltonski - 2013 - Journal of Moral Philosophy 10 (3):255-275.
Political Theory and Public Opinion: Against Democratic Restraint.Alice Baderin - 2016 - Politics, Philosophy and Economics 15 (3):209-233.
Liberal Democracy and Political Islam: The Search for Common Ground.Mostapha Benhenda - 2011 - Politics, Philosophy and Economics 10 (1):88-115.
Davidson, Irrationality, and Ethics.Basil Smith - 2001 - Philosophy Today 45 (3):242-253.


Added to PP index

Total views
28 ( #405,898 of 2,499,071 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
3 ( #209,823 of 2,499,071 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes