In Hauke Brunkhorst, Charlotte Gaitanides & Gerhard Grözinger (eds.), Europe at a Crossroad. From Currency Union to Political and Economic Governance? Baden-Baden, Germany: pp. 19-59 (2015)

Axel Mueller
Northwestern University
I present three versions –Grimm, Offe and Streeck—of a general argument that is often used to establish that the EU-institutions meets a legitimacy-disabling condition, the so called “no demos” argument (II), embedding them in the context of the notorious “democratic deficit” suspicions against the legal system and practice of the EU (I). After examining the logical structure behind the no-demos intuition considered as an argument (III), I present principled reasons by Möllers and Habermas that show why the “no demos” argument fails to have bite in discussions of the legitimacy and status of the supranational level in the multi-level EU-architecture. These are complemented by another principled reason arising from John Dewey’s conception of the “public” as a clearer alternative for the “popular” requirement of democratic legitimation (IV). I conclude that all three conceptions together suggest that the hunt after pre-politically existing peoples as foundations of democratic legitimacy expresses no more than methodological nationalism without any footing in the material and conceptual requirements of democratic legitimation. Given the absence of a principled problem with the legitimacy of the priority and interference of supranational EU-law in the national legal and political orders, there are thus also no principled reasons to abandon or discredit the European project in the absence of a European nation or society.
Keywords democratic legitimacy, supranational governance, Dewey, Habermas, democracy, legitimacy, no demos, European Union
Categories (categorize this paper)
Buy the book Find it on
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

 PhilArchive page | Other versions
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

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

A Public No Demos: What Supranational Democratic Legitimacy Requires.Axel Mueller - 2017 - European Journal of Philosophy 25 (4):1248-1278.
On the Demos and its Kin: Nationalism, Democracy, and the Boundary Problem.Arash Abizadeh - 2012 - American Political Science Review 106 (4):867-882.
Democratic Legitimacy and Proceduralist Social Epistemology.Fabienne Peter - 2007 - Politics, Philosophy and Economics 6 (3):329-353.


Added to PP index

Total views
105 ( #111,359 of 2,504,877 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
11 ( #68,821 of 2,504,877 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes