Towards a Democracy-Centred Ethics
Forthcoming, Special Issue of Critical Review of Social and Political Philosophy, eds. Kaspar Lippert-Rasmussen and Theresa Scavinius.
25 Pages Posted: 8 Feb 2017
Date Written: July 24, 2016
The core idea of this paper is that we can use the differences between democratic and undemocratic governments to illuminate ethical problems, particularly in the area of political philosophy. Democratic values, rights and institutions lie between the most abstract considerations of ethics and meta-ethics and the most particularised decisions, outcomes and contexts. Hence, this paper argues, we can use the differences between democratic and undemocratic governments, as we best understand them, to structure our theoretical investigations, to test and organise our intuitions and ideas, and to explain and justify our philosophical conclusions in ways analogous to the distinction between consequentialist and deontological theories in moral philosophy, or between liberal and republican principles in political philosophy. In this way – or so I will argue – we can interpret and evaluate competing philosophical claims so that they are morally and politically attractive, as well as logically consistent. Specifically, as we will see, a democracy-centred approach to ethics can help us to distinguish liberal and democratic approaches to political morality in ways that reflect the varieties of democratic theory, and the importance of distinguishing democratic from undemocratic forms of liberalism.
Keywords: democratic, undemocratic, liberal, republican, constitutionalism, ethics, rights, duties, permissions, Waldron, Christiano, Joshua Cohen, Shklar, outing, privacy, equality, marriage
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation