Philosophy and Democracy

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  • Topic: Separation of powers, Democracy, Decision making
  • Pages : 5 (1681 words )
  • Download(s) : 198
  • Published : March 9, 2011
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According to Dworkin, democracy is an egalitarian perception to political equality (). Dworkin argues for a substantive approach to democratic procedure; in effort to secure an equal distribution of political power to citizens as a whole (9; 117). Dworkin’s consequential approach classifies two types of political decisions: “choice-sensitive” and “choice-insensitive” issues (132). Dworkin defines choice-sensitive issues in terms of justice that: “depends essentially on character and distribution of preferences within the political community” (132). For example, Dworkin asserts: “The decision whether to use available public funds to build a new sports center or a new road system is typically choice-sensitive” (132). In other words, support from the majority-perspective facilitates the acceptance of correct choice-sensitive decisions by the public (132). On the other hand, Dworkin argues that a choice-insensitive issue develops from a second-order question about the choice-sensitivity of any first-order question (132). In addition, an older interpretation by Dworkin classifies issues of policy as “choice-sensitive;” while interpreting issues of principle as choice-insensitive (132). Dworkin’s interpretation of democracy is one of either a “dependent” or “detached” conception (117). Detached conceptions qualify democracy entirely on its procedure; more specific, as judgments of fairness based solely on its equal distribution of political power (118). In opposition, Dworkin argues that dependent conceptions are those which infer: “…the best form of democracy is whatever form is most likely to produce the substantive decisions and results that treat all members of the community with equal concern;” thereby constituting as the best consequential means to interpret democratic production of equal outcome in terms of choice-insensitive issues (118;135). Moreover, Dworkin argues that a dependent conception of democracy is best satisfied when constitutionalism applies a “choice-insensitive” perspective to test issues under judicial review (135). Dworkin’s distinction serves to separate out those issues that should not be sensitive to communal preferences (119). Accordingly, Dworkin mentions two types of political consequences of the democratic process: “distributive” and “participatory” consequences (outcomes) (118). According to Dworkin, distributive consequences correspond to economic justice in terms of a political decision’s division of its resources; e.g., regulation of wealth (118). Participatory consequences are the symbolic, agency and communal outcomes of a political process; more specific, the consequences from its character and distribution (118). Dworkin interprets political power in terms of “impact” and “influence” (117; 122). According to Dworkin’s ‘equality of impact’, vertical equality of power between citizens and officials is implausible; while horizontal equality of power between different citizens appears too unassuming (121). In contrast, Dworkin’s adverse view on the ‘equality of influence’ developed, in part because of its insensitivity towards illegitimate, and legitimate sources of unequal influence of democratic processes; e.g., illegitimate influences of wealth, and the legitimate influences of persuasion (122-124). Consequently, Dworkin’s approach to political equality lacks an independent perspective; thus refuting his detached conception of democracy-political equality (128). Therefore, Dworkin endorses his dependent conception of democracy, which focuses on substantively equal outcomes derived from distributive values (131). Dworkin’s substantive account of democratic political equality is too restrictive; although, its scope appears less narrow than that of actual democratic procedure. Dworkin limits the scope of choice-sensitive decisions in politics by interpreting them as matters of taste (132). The problem lies with the complex nature underlying...
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