The basis of political equality

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

1 Scopus citations


This chapter vindicates democracy against recent criticism and shows how democracy can be improved and made more egalitarian. Critics argue that democracy is rule by the ignorant or by those who must appease the ignorant, basing this idea on an economic theory of information, backed by data suggesting widespread ignorance among citizens. They argue either for radically diminishing the size of the state or for rule by experts. But this pessimism is unfounded. There are good grounds for thinking that democracy can work well despite having to work in a context of low information decision-making. The critics point usefully to an underdeveloped aspect of political equality: the theory of citizen participation. To remedy this shortcoming, this chapter first argues for the instrumental and intrinsic values of democracy, relying on the expectation that citizens can act on the basis of adequate information about politics. Second, it critiques the crude model of citizen participation which is meant to undermine the expectation that citizens act on the basis of adequate information. Third, it proposes a collaborative conception of how citizens participate in a democracy and fourth, it suggests how democracy can be made more effective and egalitarian.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationPolitical Epistemology
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages21
ISBN (Electronic)9780192893338
StatePublished - Jan 1 2021


  • Citizenship
  • Division of labor
  • Equality
  • Information
  • Intrinsic value
  • Participation
  • Political epistemology
  • Social basis of participation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Arts and Humanities


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