The uneasy relationship between democracy and capital

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31 Scopus citations


The basic question I want to ask is: can the exercise of private property rights abridge fundamental norms of democratic decision-making? And, under what conditions can it do so? To the extent that we view democratic decision making as required by justice, the issue is whether there is a deep tension between certain ways of exercising the rights of private property and that part of social justice that is characterized by democracy. To the extent that this tension holds, I will argue that commitment to democratic norms implies that private capitalist firms must cooperate with a democratic assembly and government in the pursuit of the aims of a democratic assembly even when this implies some diminution of the profits of the firms. The cooperation I have in mind goes beyond the norm of faithful compliance with the law. To be sure, there are limits to this requirement as we will see in the later part of the paper. To the extent that private capitalist firms fail to do this and partially undermine the pursuit of the aims of a democratic assembly, they act in a way that is incompatible with fundamental norms of democratic governance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)195-217
Number of pages23
JournalSocial Philosophy and Policy
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Philosophy
  • Social Sciences(all)


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