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Raz on Authority and Democracy

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  12 October 2012

David Rondel*
Ryerson University


ABSTRACT: I argue that Joseph Raz’s service conception of authority cannot convincingly account for the nature and source of democratic authority. It cannot explain (a) why decisions made democratically are more likely to be sound than decisions made non-democratically, and therefore, (b) why democratic decisions might be understood as constituting moral reasons for action and compliance independently of their instrumental dimensions. My argument is that democratic authority cannot be explained completely in terms of the truth or soundness of the outcomes it tends toward. A full account of democratic authority must involve non-instrumental values about the moral caliber of democratic procedures.

RÉSUMÉ : Je soutiens ici que la conception de l’autorité de Joseph Raz ne peut rendre compte de façon convaincante de la nature et de la source de l’autorité démocratique. Elle ne peut expliquer (a) pourquoi les décisions prises démocratiquement sont plus susceptibles d’être raisonnables que les décisions prises non démocratiquement, et par conséquent, (b) pourquoi les décisions démocratiques pourraient être interprétées comme constituant des raisons morales pour l’action et la conformité. Je soutiens que l’autorité démocratique ne peut être expliquée complètement en termes de vérité ou de justesse des résultats qu’elle tend à obtenir. Un exposé complet de l’autorité démocratique doit tenir compte de valeurs non-instrumentales concernant la qualité morale des procédures démocratiques.

Research Articles
Copyright © Canadian Philosophical Association 2012

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