In current Western societies, democracy is taken to be a legitimate political authority. This means that it rightfully holds and exercises coercive power, while we have a duty or an obligation to obey its directives. In this work I intend to focus on each of these elements, in turn: political obligation, legitimate authority and democracy. My aim is to provide a democratic justification of political obligation, by showing that democracy is a legitimate political authority and that it has the right to impose obligations on us. This means that the legitimate authority of democracy grounds a political obligation towards it, while the content of such obligation is given by what is needed for democracy to work. All in all, this may seem not to take too much distance from traditional approaches. Nonetheless, I will argue that these other accounts fail to address properly the relation between legitimacy and obligation and, consequently, the real content of obligation itself. Indeed, traditional democratic theories have focused mainly on the justification of democracy as a valuable political regime, either per se or comparatively, and have drawn from such justification the legitimacy of democratic authority. However, the relationship between justification and legitimacy is not as straightforward as it may seem, as A. John Simmons has pointed out. I take into account Simmons’s challenge and provide a general understanding of how to conceive of legitimate authority in the first chapter. To properly deal with Simmons’s challenge, I argue that one cannot limit the justification of democracy to its value according to a certain conception of justice, because in order for these justifications to be effective they ought to be accompanied either by an account of citizens’ natural disposition to accept said justification as sound or by an account of citizens’ natural duty of justice to respect said justification. John Rawls’s and Thomas Christiano’s theories of democracy attempt to do precisely these things, respectively. I address both endeavors and show how they fail in the second and third chapter. Finally, I come back to general theories of democracy and in particular to the main approaches to justify democracy: instrumentalism and proceduralism. I argue that both approaches fail in some relevant way to properly account either for democratic procedures themselves, as they are taken to be of value only through reference to outcomes, or for the way democratic procedures are employed by citizens. I contend that a successful justification ought to be not only independent from outcomes, but also from the disposition with which citizens address democratic institutions. Yet this can be done only if citizens are allowed to bring into the democratic game various and diverse inputs, which ought to conform neither to one particular conception of justice, nor to other purely moral motivations. Therefore, I devise a justification that can answer to prudential reasons: beyond moral and epistemic reasons, the fact that democracy represents a good way to pursue one’s own interests makes it a legitimate authority. In turn, if this justification is sound, citizens have a duty not to undermine democratic institutions, because they are legitimate, and to do what is required for democracy to work properly. This includes the duty to obey the law and the conditional duty to get informed before voting.

NO DEMOCRACY FOR DEVILS: DEMOCRATIC AUTHORITY AND POLITICAL OBLIGATION / C. Destri ; supervisore: A. Besussi ; coordinatore: F. Zucchini. - : . Università degli Studi di Milano, 2017 May 24. ((29. ciclo, Anno Accademico 2016. [10.13130/destri-chiara_phd2017-05-24].

NO DEMOCRACY FOR DEVILS: DEMOCRATIC AUTHORITY AND POLITICAL OBLIGATION

C. Destri
2017

Abstract

In current Western societies, democracy is taken to be a legitimate political authority. This means that it rightfully holds and exercises coercive power, while we have a duty or an obligation to obey its directives. In this work I intend to focus on each of these elements, in turn: political obligation, legitimate authority and democracy. My aim is to provide a democratic justification of political obligation, by showing that democracy is a legitimate political authority and that it has the right to impose obligations on us. This means that the legitimate authority of democracy grounds a political obligation towards it, while the content of such obligation is given by what is needed for democracy to work. All in all, this may seem not to take too much distance from traditional approaches. Nonetheless, I will argue that these other accounts fail to address properly the relation between legitimacy and obligation and, consequently, the real content of obligation itself. Indeed, traditional democratic theories have focused mainly on the justification of democracy as a valuable political regime, either per se or comparatively, and have drawn from such justification the legitimacy of democratic authority. However, the relationship between justification and legitimacy is not as straightforward as it may seem, as A. John Simmons has pointed out. I take into account Simmons’s challenge and provide a general understanding of how to conceive of legitimate authority in the first chapter. To properly deal with Simmons’s challenge, I argue that one cannot limit the justification of democracy to its value according to a certain conception of justice, because in order for these justifications to be effective they ought to be accompanied either by an account of citizens’ natural disposition to accept said justification as sound or by an account of citizens’ natural duty of justice to respect said justification. John Rawls’s and Thomas Christiano’s theories of democracy attempt to do precisely these things, respectively. I address both endeavors and show how they fail in the second and third chapter. Finally, I come back to general theories of democracy and in particular to the main approaches to justify democracy: instrumentalism and proceduralism. I argue that both approaches fail in some relevant way to properly account either for democratic procedures themselves, as they are taken to be of value only through reference to outcomes, or for the way democratic procedures are employed by citizens. I contend that a successful justification ought to be not only independent from outcomes, but also from the disposition with which citizens address democratic institutions. Yet this can be done only if citizens are allowed to bring into the democratic game various and diverse inputs, which ought to conform neither to one particular conception of justice, nor to other purely moral motivations. Therefore, I devise a justification that can answer to prudential reasons: beyond moral and epistemic reasons, the fact that democracy represents a good way to pursue one’s own interests makes it a legitimate authority. In turn, if this justification is sound, citizens have a duty not to undermine democratic institutions, because they are legitimate, and to do what is required for democracy to work properly. This includes the duty to obey the law and the conditional duty to get informed before voting.
BESUSSI, ANTONELLA
BESUSSI, ANTONELLA
ZUCCHINI, FRANCESCO
Democratic Theory ; Political Legitimacy ; Political Obligation ; Justification
Settore SPS/01 - Filosofia Politica
NO DEMOCRACY FOR DEVILS: DEMOCRATIC AUTHORITY AND POLITICAL OBLIGATION / C. Destri ; supervisore: A. Besussi ; coordinatore: F. Zucchini. - : . Università degli Studi di Milano, 2017 May 24. ((29. ciclo, Anno Accademico 2016. [10.13130/destri-chiara_phd2017-05-24].
Doctoral Thesis
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/2434/546863
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