Democracy, Rights, and the Law
South African Journal on Human Rights, Vol. 7, p. 24, 1991
26 Pages Posted: 22 Aug 2008
Date Written: August, 21 2008
In this article I want to explore a distinction between instrumental and intrinsic arguments for democracy in the context of the creation of a democratic society in South Africa. I show that democrats are not barred from employing instrumental arguments. Like instrumentalists, democrats will decide what should be done in accordance with an evaluation of the means available to them and the consequences of adopting this means rather than that. Nor is the difference that democrats are such for non-instrumental reasons. The reason to be a democrat is that democracy works best. Rather the difference is in the criteria of evaluation. Democrats will be concerned to create a situation in which the issue of who should wield political power is democratically decided, whereas instrumentalists are concerned to win power for their particular group. Democrats will have that concern because democracy is itself instrumentally valuable - it is the political system we should adopt in order to achieve certain values. But by contrast with instrumentalists, democrats will argue that those values transcend and constrain the particular concerns of groups.
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation