Democracy is a notion that is frequently taken for granted in practical life. Philosophers, however, have offered divergent understandings of its meaning, and have given alternative, even conflicting, justifications of the sources of its value. This course will focus on the challenging questions of the philosophical foundations of democracy, and particularly on the question of how to effectively justify it. We will consider egalitarian approaches (e.g., Christiano), epistemic approaches (Estlund), deliberative perspectives (e.g., Habermas, Cohen) and common activity approaches (e.g., Gould). Consideration will be given to whether democracy is only instrumentally valuable or is intrinsically so. We will discuss whether democracy is a human right and whether recognizing it as such might be too demanding for the range of contemporary cultures and societies around the world. The course will go on to consider two key questions: 1) What is the proper scope of democracy, i.e., to whom does it extend, only citizens within a nation state or across borders as well? And is democracy only a political notion or is it also relevant to economic and social institutions? 2) What form should democracy take? representative or participatory, especially in view of the new opportunities opened by the internet. The course will then consider a range of questions concerning democracy and gender, including the relation of democracy to interpersonal and social contexts (e.g., the family) and the issue of more effectively representing the perspectives of women within politics. We will conclude by discussing some new questions posed for democracy by globalization and in particular whether there is a role for transnational or even fully global forms of democracy in the contemporary period.
Academic Progress Units
Repeat For Credit