Democratic Legitimacy and the Competence Obligation

Moral Philosophy and Politics 8 (1):109-130 (2021)
  Copy   BIBTEX

Abstract

What obligations are there on voters? This paper argues that voters should make their electoral decision competently, and does so by developing on a recent proposal for democratic legitimacy. It then explores three problems arising from this ‘competency obligation’. First, how should voters be competent? I propose three conditions required for voter competence. Second, how competent should voters be? I argue that the competency required tracks the significance of the consequences of the vote. Third, if the electorate are unlikely to deliver a competent decision, should suffrage be restricted to the competent alone? I defend unrestricted suffrage on the grounds that restricting suffrage cannot guarantee a competently made electoral decision. Instead, obligations on voters should be minimised by political parties satisfying their obligations to be politically sound; if they are sound, then the obligation to be competent can be easily satisfied by voters.

Author's Profile

Finlay Malcolm
University of Manchester

Analytics

Added to PP
2020-01-26

Downloads
216 (#38,837)

6 months
64 (#18,174)

Historical graph of downloads since first upload
This graph includes both downloads from PhilArchive and clicks on external links on PhilPapers.
How can I increase my downloads?