Political Incompetence and Defenses of Democracy

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Much past and present work in political psychology casts serious doubt on the competency and knowledge of individual citizens. This work has mostly been ignored by scholars offering defenses of the intrinsic value of democracy, though recent (partially) instrumental defenses of democracy by epistemic proceduralists have taken such challenges more seriously. I argue that we need to carefully explore the possibility that systematic and persistent failures in citizens’ competency and knowledge do not only potentially undermine the superiority of democracy as a form of decision-making in the epistemic sense, but that they may undermine, or at least damage, defenses of democracy’s intrinsic value as well. I argue that the empirical findings on citizen incompetence, especially findings about the cognitive decision-making biases of most adult human beings, call into question two broad types of defenses of democracy—Fairness and Equal Standing defenses.
Original languageEnglish (US)
StatePublished - 2018
Event2018 American Philosophical Association - Pacific Division Meeting - San Diego, United States
Duration: Mar 28 2018Apr 1 2018


Conference2018 American Philosophical Association - Pacific Division Meeting
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CitySan Diego


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