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  • Print publication year: 2014
  • Online publication date: September 2014

Introduction

Summary

Democracy in the twenty-first century has failed to live up to its promise. It is widely noted that democratic governments have grown increasingly detached from the governed and incapable of standing up to the powerful economic interests that tend to dominate everyday life. Indeed, these interests have come to permeate politics itself, appearing to render “rule by the people” a bare ideal, seemingly remote and out of reach. Pervasive and persistent inequalities mark contemporary economies, which, though they may produce a wide range of goods and make effective use of new technologies, nonetheless fail to provide many with adequate livelihoods or dignified conditions of work. Even in societies where multiple sources of gratification and fulfillment are available, the limits of the “private sphere” and the informal contexts of interpersonal relationships leave many people dissatisfied and disempowered, whether because of their inability to realize their goals or develop their capacities, or in virtue of residual forms of oppression, racism, and group hatreds. What can political philosophy contribute to understanding and helping to remedy these contemporary problems? Why has democracy, in particular, been unable to fulfill its potential? And is it possible to deepen democracy while also achieving greater degrees of economic justice, not only locally but also more globally? What would make those dual aims achievable?

Gould, Carol C., Globalizing Democracy and Human Rights (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004)
Gould, Carol C., Rethinking Democracy: Freedom and Social Cooperation in Politics, Economy, and Society (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988)
Hayward, Tim, Constitutional Environmental Rights (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005)