Must Egalitarians Condemn Representative Democracy?

Social Theory and Practice 1 (1):171-198 (2021)
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Many contemporary democratic theorists are democratic egalitarians. They think that the distinctive value of democracy lies in equality. Yet this position faces a serious problem. All contemporary democracies are representative democracies. Such democracies are highly unequal: representatives have much more power than do ordinary citizens. So, it seems that democratic egalitarians must condemn representative democracies. In this paper, I present a solution to this problem. My solution invokes popular control. If representatives are under popular control, then their extra power is not objectionable. Unfortunately, so I argue, in the United States representatives are under loose popular control.

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Adam Lovett
London School of Economics


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