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Flashcards in robert dahl on democracy Deck (24):

initial reason why to choose a democratic govt

some goals cant be attained on ones own, but people can form an assoc. to realize the goals togeth. the assoc. needs a constitution, whose contents will be voted on democratically


principle of the constitution

for the const. (set of rules and principles to determine how the assoc. decisions will be made), all members will be considered to be politically equal (equally qualified in participating in process of making decisions abt the assoc.'s policies)


dahls 5 criteria for democratic process, eg standards to meet req. that all members are equally qualified to participate in the assoc. policy decisions

1) effective participation
2) voting equality
3) enlightened understanding
4) control of the agenda
5) inclusion of adults


effective partcipation

Before a policy is adopted, all members must have equal and effective opportunities to make their views known to the other members as to what they think the policy should be


voting equality

When the time comes to decide on whether to enact a policy, all members must have equal and effective means by which to vote, and all votes must be equal


enlightened understanding

Within reasonable time limits, each member must have equal and effective opportunity to learn about alternative policy options and their likely consequences.


Control of the agenda

Members must have exclusive opportunity to decide how, and what, matters will be placed on the agenda. The policies are always open to change by the members; the democratic process is never closed.


Inclusion of adults

All adults (except transients [non-permanent residents] and those deemed mentally defective) should have the full rights of citizenship outlined in the other 4 criteria


application of the 5 criteria for states

it is unlikely that a state will ever measure up perfectly to all 5, but it is a useful measure/guide for institutions and states. it's an IDEAL form of dem. governing, but not the actual form


reasons to choose democracy: avoiding tyranny

Having one all powerful leader who seeks their own goals can be very damaging, and lead to war/famine/disease. though tyranny of the majority is a legitimate concern, dem. methods seem better than anything else to do the least harm to its citizens


reasons to choose democracy: fundamental rights

dem is inherently about rights. to meet certain standards, citizens MUST have rights like equal opportunity to participate and express their views


reasons to choose democracy: personal freedom

it ensures more indiv. freedom than any feasible alternative; even if the state is abolished, it's likely that groups/people would create a coercive state


reasons to choose democracy: helps ppl protect their interests

dem. ensures you're able to choose what goals you want, in order of importance. if included in the dem. process, you're more likely to be able to protect your interests (though that's up to others as well)


reasons to choose democracy: provides maximum opportunity to choose what laws to live under

if in a group, differing desires will always mean that some ppl can't do what they want (i want to have someone's items, but they don't their things to be stolen). bc everyone is given opp. to have their opinions heard, ppl must come to a consensus regarding the laws/rules


reasons to choose democracy: ability to exercise moral responsibility

exercising moral responsibility requires making decisions based off your moral principles, but if you're forced to make different decisions, you can't really be moral. dem. allows you to live under laws of your choosing, meaning you're mostly free to do what you think is right


reasons to choose democracy: human development

Not proven, but plausible. To be morally developed, ppl must be free to protect their interests, consider those of others, and take respons. for imp decisions and engage w others to come to consensus. dem. govt an essential part of this


reasons to choose democracy: political equality

though its importance is not self evident, it is provided by democracy


reasons to choose democracy: democracies dont fight wars w each other

dem. leaders and ppl learn the importance of consensus, and see other dem. ppl as more like them/trustworthy/less threataning. urge to seek peace, not war


reasons to choose democracy: increased prosperity

all modern dem. have market economies (largely unregulated, competitive, and consumers free to choose what seems best) and market economies more likely to prosper. corruption is lessened, ppl are more able to trust others and make agreements (bc of laws)


intrinsic equality

we SHOULD treat all ppl as if they possess equal claim to all fundamental goods/rights. in govts, they should consider the goods/interests of ALL their ppl


why should the principle of intrinsic equality be adopted?

-generally consistent w most ppls moral and religious beliefs
-alternatives are unconvincing; why accept claim that others are superior, even if we have an intrinsic egotistical belief that we ourselves are superior? Inconsistent
-prudence; it's safer to insist that your interests will be considered equally to others, since governments can be very harmful
-acceptability; a process that ensures equal consideration makes it more likely for it to be accepted by all ppl bc they know they will be equally included


why not guardianship (decisions made by a select few who are very knowledegable abt the greater good/how to achieve it, since most ppl are not qualified to do this)?

-good governence requires more than modern knowledge, it also takes ethical ability and incorruptibility (power and money easy corrupters)
-hard to bring about this utopia


on importance of inclusion

given human history, w/o the ability to have a voice no one will properly protect the rights/interests of all ppl. So all adults under rule (except transients and mentally incapable) must be included/have a voice


Dahls two basic premises upon which democracy is founded

moral equality of all ppl (no one is better than another), political equality of all ppl (we're all capable of making political contributions)