Democracy: Normative Theory

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

1 Scopus citations


Normative democratic theory deals with the ethical foundations of democracy and democratic institutions. It does not offer in the first instance a scientific study of those societies that are called democratic. It aims to provide an account of when and why democracy is ethically desirable as well as ethical principles for guiding the design of democratic institutions. It is inherently interdisciplinary and must call on the results of political science, sociology, and economics in order to give this kind of concrete guidance. This brief outline of normative democratic theory focuses attention on three distinct issues in recent work. First, it outlines some different approaches to the question of why democracy is morally desirable at all. Second, it explores the problem of the rationality of participation in large democratic societies given the inevitably small impact of participants on the outcomes. It also discusses blueprints of democratic institutions for dealing with this. Third, it surveys different accounts of the proper characterization of equality in the processes of representation. The last two parts display the interdisciplinary nature of normative democratic theory.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationInternational Encyclopedia of the Social & Behavioral Sciences: Second Edition
PublisherElsevier Inc.
Number of pages5
ISBN (Electronic)9780080970875
ISBN (Print)9780080970868
StatePublished - Mar 26 2015


  • Autonomous
  • Decision making
  • Democracy
  • Economic
  • Interdisciplinary
  • Morality
  • Normative democratic theory
  • Political power
  • Political science
  • Sociology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Social Sciences


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