An epistemic defense of democracy: David Estlund's democratic authority

Episteme 5 (1):pp. 129-139 (2008)
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In Democratic Authority, David Estlund 2008 presents a major new defense of democracy, called epistemic proceduralism. The theory claims that democracy exercises legitimate authority in virtue of possessing a modest epistemic power: its decisions are the product of procedures that tend to produce just laws at a better than chance rate, and better than any other type of government that is justifiable within the terms of public reason. The balance Estlund strikes between epistemic and non-epistemic justifications of democracy is open to question, both for its neglect of the roles of non-epistemic values of equality and collective autonomy in democracy, and for the ways his use of the public reason standard overshadows empirically based epistemic arguments for democracy. Nevertheless, Estlund presents telling critiques of rival theories and develops a sophisticated alternative that illuminates some central normative features of democracy



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Elizabeth Anderson
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

Citations of this work

Disagreement and epistemic arguments for democracy.Sean Ingham - 2013 - Politics, Philosophy and Economics 12 (2):136-155.
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References found in this work

On Legitimacy and Political Deliberation.Bernard Manin - 1987 - Political Theory 15 (3):338-368.
The Epistemology of Democracy.Elizabeth Anderson - 2006 - Episteme: A Journal of Social Epistemology 3 (1):8-22.
Précis of Democratic Autonomy.Henry S. Richardson - 2007 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 71 (1):187–195.
Civic respect, political liberalism, and non-liberal societies.Blain Neufeld - 2005 - Politics, Philosophy and Economics 4 (3):275-299.

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