The State of Democratic Theory

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Princeton University Press, Jan 10, 2009 - Political Science - 200 pages

What should we expect from democracy, and how likely is it that democracies will live up to those expectations? In The State of Democratic Theory, Ian Shapiro offers a critical assessment of contemporary answers to these questions, lays out his distinctive alternative, and explores its implications for policy and political action.


Some accounts of democracy's purposes focus on aggregating preferences; others deal with collective deliberation in search of the common good. Shapiro reveals the shortcomings of both, arguing instead that democracy should be geared toward minimizing domination throughout society. He contends that Joseph Schumpeter's classic defense of competitive democracy is a useful starting point for achieving this purpose, but that it stands in need of radical supplementation--both with respect to its operation in national political institutions and in its extension to other forms of collective association. Shapiro's unusually wide-ranging discussion also deals with the conditions that make democracy's survival more and less likely, with the challenges presented by ethnic differences and claims for group rights, and with the relations between democracy and the distribution of income and wealth.


Ranging over politics, philosophy, constitutional law, economics, sociology, and psychology, this book is written in Shapiro's characteristic lucid style--a style that engages practitioners within the field while also opening up the debate to newcomers.

 

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The state of democratic theory

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In this comprehensive and intelligent survey of democratic theory, Shapiro argues that the goal of democracy should not be to achieve a"common good," but rather to manage the"power relations to ... Read full review

Contents

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About the author (2009)

Ian Shapirois Sterling Professor of Political Science at Yale University, where he also serves as Henry R. Luce Director of the Yale Center for International and Area Studies. Among his many books are The Flight from Reality in the Human Sciences and, with Michael J. Graetz, Death by a Thousand Cuts (both Princeton); and The Moral Foundations of Politics.

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