A democracy is a political system where a large class of the country's people chose the country's leaders and thus decide important matters of policy.
Democracies come in various flavors and have different political institutions some of which are not government institutions in any sense- e.g. political parties.
Aikin & Talisse ask 'does democracy exist?' in 3 quarks.We tend to think of democracy as a set of governmental institutions.
However, political institutions differ considerably from one purportedly democratic society to the next.
This leads to the thought that although certain institutional forms are characteristic of democracies,
This prompts the obvious question: What kind of society is a democracy?
One where the votes of a large class of the population can change who holds power within the medium term.
Abraham Lincoln’s depiction at Gettysburg may seem a good place to start. He identified democracy as government of the people, by the people, and for the people. Yet this goes only so far. For one thing, it retains the idea that democracy is centrally a mode of government.
What’s missing from Lincoln’s account is the idea that a democracy is a social order accountable to all the people.
It is worth emphasizing that political equality does not mean that every citizen is identical or as equally admirable.
No. We neither get an equal say nor are we entitled to one. Why? The result would be horrible. We should tell Aikin & Talisse to fuck off while beating and imprisoning nutters who try to storm the Legislature so as to 'get an equal say' in its decisions.
This definition helps to make sense of why institutions can vary across democratic societies.
However, this conception of democracy raises a new difficulty.
Does it then follow that democracy doesn’t exist, that no society should count as democratic? No. To see why, we need to take a step back to consider some features about what we might call aspirational concepts.
Let’s begin by asking a different question: Was Aristotle a scientist?
Nonetheless, Aristotle sought to explain the world around him by means of a particular style of inquiry, a mode of investigation that directed him to observe, tinker, take notes, track how things change, theorize in light of the available data, and revise as new evidence emerged.
For this reason, Aristotle was indeed a scientist.
We should say the same about democracy.
However, it remains the case that a society’s being a democracy comes to more than its claim to be one. We regard Aristotle as a scientist not simply because he says he’s being scientific. Rather, his status as a scientist has to do with how he conducted his investigations; he counts as a scientist in virtue of how the aspiration to understand the world informed his efforts.
But that’s not all. The democratic aspiration also involves the creation of a culture in which the aim of achieving a self-governing society of equals is operative in the minds and practices of political officials and citizens.
Thus, even though no society lives up to the
We conclude by highlighting one important upshot of our account. It is common to think of democracy as something that is founded or established.