Empirical research on public opinion has tended to misjudge the normative rationales for modern democracy. Although it is often presumed that citizens' policy preferences are the opinions of interest to democratic theorists, and that democracy requires a highly informed citizenry, neither of these premises represents a dominant position in mainstream democratic theory. Besides incorrect assumptions about major tenets of democratic theory, empirical research on civic engagement is running into dead ends that will require normative analysis to overcome. Bringing political philosophy back in to the study of public opinion can not only remedy shortcomings in the empirical literature, but can also underscore how relevant that literature is for a wide range of problems in democratic practice.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)75-104
Number of pages30
JournalCritical Review
Issue number1-3
StatePublished - 2006

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Political Science and International Relations
  • Literature and Literary Theory


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