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In Our NameThe Ethics of Democracy$
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Eric Beerbohm

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780691154619

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691154619.001.0001

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How to Value Democracy

How to Value Democracy

(p.25) Chapter 1 How to Value Democracy
In Our Name

Eric Beerbohm

Princeton University Press

This chapter proposes a conception of democracy based on a system of shared liability and that captures the moral value of democratic institutions in a way that is more purely nonconsequentialist than ordinarily supposed. In this approach, citizens relate to each other horizontally and vertically—as cosubjects of the law and coauthors sharing authority over the coercive terms of our state. In Thomas Hobbes's elegant picture, we have to understand ourselves as simultaneously “makers” and “matter.” The chapter argues that what we ultimately value about democratic practice is that it makes possible for us to stand in a certain kind of relation with others—a relationship that recognizes them as mutually accountable, free, and rational persons. This is the sense in which democracy places us in an infrastructure of mutual liability.

Keywords:   democracy, democratic institutions, shared liability, moral value, citizens, cosubjects, coauthors, authority

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