The reason unity and harmony are so important to Plato are because they are responsible for bonding together Plato’s ideal state and protecting it from tyranny.
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Once we approach the idea of citizenship from a moral point of viewand we recognize the importance of a division of labor, the questionarises, what is the appropriate role for a citizen in a democracy? Ifwe think that citizens are too often uninformed we should ask twoquestions. What ought citizens have knowledge about in order tofulfill their role? What standards ought citizens’ beliefs liveup to in order to be adequately supported? Some, such as Dahl in theabove quote, have proposed that citizens know about their particularsectors of society and not others. We have seen that this view has anumber of difficulties. Christiano proposes, along with others, thatcitizens must think about what ends the society ought to aim at andleave the question of how to achieve those aims to experts(Christiano 1996, chap. 5). This kind of view needs to answer to theproblem of how to ensure that politicians, administrators and expertsactually do attempt to realize the aims set by citizens. And it mustshow how institutions can be designed so as to establish the divisionof labor while preserving equality among citizens. But if citizensgenuinely do choose the aims and others faithfully pursue the means toachieving those aims, then citizens are in the driver's seat insociety.
A considerable amount of the literature in political science and theeconomic theory of the state are grounded in the assumption thatindividuals act primarily and perhaps even exclusively in theirself-interest narrowly construed. The problem of participation and theaccounts of the democratic process described above are in large partdependent on this assumption. While these ideas have generatedinteresting results and have become ever more sophisticated, there hasbeen a growing chorus of opponents. Against the self-interest axiom,defenders of deliberative democracy and others claim that citizens arecapable of being motivated by a concern for the common good andjustice. And they claim, with Mill and Rousseau, that such concernsare not merely given prior to politics but that they can evolve andimprove through the process of discussion and debate in politics. Theyassert that much debate and discussion in politics would not beintelligible were it not for the fact that citizens are willing toengage in open minded discussion with those who have distinct morallyinformed points of view. Empirical evidence suggests that individualsare motivated by moral considerations in politics in addition to theirinterests. Accordingly, many propose that democratic institutions bedesigned to support the inclination to engage in moral and open-mindeddiscussion with others (see the essays in Mansbridge 1990).
A number of debates have centered on the question of what kinds oflegislative institution are best for a democratic society. What choicewe make here will depend heavily on our underlying ethicaljustification of democracy, our conception of citizenship as well as onour empirical understanding of political institutions and how theyfunction. The most basic types of formal political representationavailable are single member district representation, proportionalrepresentation and group representation. In addition, many societieshave opted for multicameral legislative institutions. In some cases,combinations of the above forms have been tried.
Plato's Criticism of Democracy - Plato's Criticism of Democracy Do not be angry with me for speaking the truth;.Plato thought of “democracy” as of a possible potential source of tyranny.
It’s a very good question, and Estlund rested his defense of democracy on it, but he felt obliged to look for holes in his argument. He had a sneaking suspicion that a polity ruled by educated voters probably would perform better than a democracy, and he thought that some of the resulting inequities could be remedied. If historically disadvantaged groups, such as African-Americans or women, turned out to be underrepresented in an epistocratic system, those who made the grade could be given additional votes, in compensation.
In the United States, élites who feared the ignorance of poor immigrants tried to restrict ballots. In 1855, Connecticut introduced the first literacy test for American voters. Although a New York Democrat protested, in 1868, that “if a man is ignorant, he needs the ballot for his protection all the more,” in the next half century the tests spread to almost all parts of the country. They helped racists in the South circumvent the Fifteenth Amendment and disenfranchise blacks, and even in immigrant-rich New York a 1921 law required new voters to take a test if they couldn’t prove that they had an eighth-grade education. About fifteen per cent flunked. Voter literacy tests weren’t permanently outlawed by Congress until 1975, years after the civil-rights movement had discredited them.
Not all instrumental arguments favor democracy. Plato(Republic, Book VI) argues that democracy is inferior tovarious forms of monarchy, aristocracy and even oligarchy on thegrounds that democracy tends to undermine the expertise necessary toproperly governed societies. In a democracy, he argues, those who areexpert at winning elections and nothing else will eventually dominatedemocratic politics. Democracy tends to emphasize this expertise atthe expense of the expertise that is necessary to properly governedsocieties. The reason for this is that most people do not have thekinds of talents that enable them to think well about the difficultissues that politics involves. But in order to win office or get apiece of legislation passed, politicians must appeal to these people'ssense of what is right or not right. Hence, the state will be guidedby very poorly worked out ideas that experts in manipulation and massappeal use to help themselves win office.
Through the wisdom and teachings of Plato, law has evolved into many different systems, and through this paper we will discuss the impact this particular philosopher had had on our modern system of democracy....
Like many people I know, I’ve spent recent months staying up late, reading polls in terror. The flawed and faulty nature of democracy has become a vivid companion. But is democracy really failing, or is it just trying to say something?
One distant relative of the self-government approach is the account ofdemocracy as a process of public justification defended by, amongothers, Joshua Cohen (2002, p. 21). The idea behind this approach isthat laws and policies are legitimate to the extent that they arepublicly justified to the citizens of the community. Publicjustification is justification to each citizen as a result of free andreasoned debate among equals. Citizens justify laws and policies toeach other on the basis of mutually acceptable reasons. Democracy,properly understood, is the context in which individuals freely engagein a process of reasoned discussion and deliberation on an equalfooting. The ideas of freedom and equality provide guidelines forstructuring democratic institutions.