Affected and Subjected: The All-Affected Principle in Transnational Democratic Theory

32 Pages Posted: 6 Jun 2013

See all articles by Johan Karlsson Schaffer

Johan Karlsson Schaffer

University of Gothenburg - School of Global Studies; University of Oslo - Faculty of Law

Date Written: December 5, 2006

Abstract

Many transnational democrats support their claims for global democratic reform by appealing to the so-called all-affected principle, stating that everyone who is affected by a decision has a right to participate in making it. Although often identified as a core principle of democratic theory, the all-affected principle is difficult both to interpret and to apply.

In the first part of this paper, I examine the critique against the all-affected principle, arguing that specifying what it means to be affected is itself a highly political issue, since it must rest on some disputable theory of interests; and that the principle does not solve the problem of how to legitimately constitute the democratic community, since such acts, too, are decisions which affect people. Furthermore, I argue that applying the principle comes at too high a cost: either political boundaries must be redrawn for each issue at stake or we must ensure that democratic politics only has consequences within an enclosed community, and that it affects its members equally.

In the second part of the paper, I consider how two versions of transnational democratic theory — cosmopolitan democracy and deliberative democracy, both of which rely on the all-affected principle — may respond to this critique. In the final part of the paper, I discuss a possible replacement for the all-affected principle, an alternative principle according to which everyone who is subject to the laws should be granted the right to participate in making them. This subject-to-law principle solves some, but not all, of the problems that followed from the all-affected principle.

Keywords: democratic theory, all-affected principle, inclusion, boundary problem, transnational democracy, cosmopolitan democracy, deliberative democracy

Suggested Citation

Karlsson Schaffer, Johan, Affected and Subjected: The All-Affected Principle in Transnational Democratic Theory (December 5, 2006). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2274644 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2274644

Johan Karlsson Schaffer (Contact Author)

University of Gothenburg - School of Global Studies ( email )

POB 700
Gothenburg, SE 40530
Sweden

University of Oslo - Faculty of Law ( email )

PO Box 6706 St Olavsplass
Oslo, 0130
Norway

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