This paper is about criteria for assessing alternative political institutions in a society committed to popular sovereignty. The issues are classic, and we do not attempt a comprehensive review of the ways in which they run through political and economic thought since Aristotle. An aggregative perspective on political institutions, which describes politics in terms of aggregating exogenous, prior preferences of citizens, is contrasted with an integrative perspective, which describes politics more in terms of the development of preferences within a framework of rights and norms. The evaluation of aggregative processes and institutions highlights questions of efficiency, preferences, and endowments. The evaluation of integrative institutions focuses on questions of competence and integrity. Many of the most influential contemporary discussions of political institutions are based on an aggregative framework that is relatively inattentive to issues of political integration. This contemporary emphasis on metaphors of aggregation, however, represents a phase in a history of oscillation between aggregation and integration in politics and political theory, and there are signs that the emphasis may shift in the next few decades to a greater consciousness of integration. Although the cyclic process is not escaped through awareness of it, such awareness may provide a basis for a more thoughtful approach to the search for appropriate institutions within a political system dedicated to popular sovereignty.