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Democratic Equality$
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James Lindley Wilson

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780691190914

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: May 2020

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691190914.001.0001

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Against Equal Power

Against Equal Power

(p.75) Chapter Three Against Equal Power
Democratic Equality

James Lindley Wilson

Princeton University Press

This chapter addresses what is probably the most common and most influential view of political equality: the view that political equality requires institutions that guarantee citizens equality of power over common decisions. This view implies that rule according to majority vote of all citizens is necessary and sufficient to satisfy the demands of political equality. The chapter argues that this position focuses too narrowly on one moment of the decision-making process: the moment of translating citizens' judgments into legislative outcomes. As a result, it neglects the need for fair processes both preceding legislative votes—processes of agenda setting, deliberation, and representation, for instance—and succeeding those votes; for instance, in administrative procedure. It also fails to respond to the need to secure political equality over multiple iterations of collective decision making. Instead of the equal-power view, then, there is a need for a conception of political equality that reflects the democratic demand for equal political status over time.

Keywords:   political equality, equality of power, common decisions, majority vote, decision-making process, legislative votes, collective decision making

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