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  1. Must Realists Be Pessimists About Democracy? Responding to Epistemic and Oligarchic Challenges.Gordon Arlen & Enzo Rossi - 2021 - Moral Philosophy and Politics 8 (1):27-49.
    In this paper we show how a realistic normative democratic theory can work within the constraints set by the most pessimistic empirical results about voting behaviour and elite capture of the policy process. After setting out the empirical evidence and discussing some extant responses by political theorists, we argue that the evidence produces a two-pronged challenge for democracy: an epistemic challenge concerning the quality and focus of decision-making and an oligarchic challenge concerning power concentration. To address the challenges we then (...)
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  2.  9
    Aristotle and the Problem of Oligarchic Harm: Insights for Democracy.Gordon Arlen - 2019 - European Journal of Political Theory 18 (3):393-414.
    This essay identifies ‘oligarchic harm’ as a dire threat confronting contemporary democracies. I provide a formal standard for classifying oligarchs: those who use personal access to concentrated wealth to pursue harmful forms of discretionary influence. I then use Aristotle to think through both the moral and the epistemic dilemmas of oligarchic harm, highlighting Aristotle’s concerns about the difficulties of using wealth as a ‘proxy’ for virtue. While Aristotle’s thought provides great resources for diagnosing oligarchic threats, it proves less useful as (...)
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  3.  30
    Aristotle and the Problem of Oligarchic Harm: Insights for Democracy.Gordon Arlen - 2016 - European Journal of Political Theory 18 (3):147488511666383.
    This essay identifies ‘oligarchic harm’ as a dire threat confronting contemporary democracies. I provide a formal standard for classifying oligarchs: those who use personal access to concentrated w...
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  4.  75
    Is This What Democracy Looks Like?Gordon Arlen & Enzo Rossi - 2022 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 65 (1):1-14.
    ABSTRACT This essay is a critical study of Jason Brennan's Against Democracy. We make three main points. First, we argue that Brennan's proposal of a right to competent government only works if one considers the absence of government a viable proposition, something most of his opponents are not prepared to do. Second, we suggest that Brennan's account of competent decision-making is blind to forms of oligarchic power that work against the very ideals of justice and epistemic virtue that competence is (...)
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  5.  4
    Citizen Tax Juries: Democratizing Tax Enforcement After the Panama Papers.Gordon Arlen - 2022 - Political Theory 50 (2):193-220.
    Four years after the Panama Papers scandal, tax avoidance remains an urgent moral-political problem. Moving beyond both the academic and policy mainstream, I advocate the “democratization of tax enforcement,” by which I mean systematic efforts to make tax avoiders accountable to the judgment of ordinary citizens. Both individual oligarchs and multinational corporations have access to sophisticated tax avoidance strategies that impose significant fiscal costs on democracies and exacerbate preexisting distributive and political inequalities. Yet much contemporary tax sheltering occurs within the (...)
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  6.  1
    Getting Real About Taxes: Offshore Tax Sheltering and Realism's Ethic of Responsibility.Gordon Arlen & Carlo Burelli - 2022 - Ethics and International Affairs 36 (2):231-258.
    This article tackles the issue of offshore tax sheltering from the perspective of normative political realism. Tax sheltering is a pressing contemporary policy challenge, with hundreds of billions in private assets protected in offshore trusts and shell companies. Indeed, tax sheltering produces a variety of empirical dilemmas that render it a distinctive challenge for global governance. Therefore, it is crucial for normative political theorists to confront this problem. A realist approach offers three distinct advantages, elaborated in the three subsequent sections (...)
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