Democratic Respect and Compromise

Critical Review of Social and Political Philosophy, Forthcoming

25 Pages Posted: 8 Oct 2016

Date Written: October 7, 2016


Much contemporary political theory examines how people who disagree on fundamental issues of good and right can nevertheless live together. This question is central when we recognize "the fact of pluralism." In democratic theory, recognizing pluralism raises the question whether and why we ought to accommodate cultural and ideological minorities in political outcomes when this is not needed to reach a majority. The latter, I see as the question of the moral significance of political compromise. Do majorities have any reasons of fundamental democratic principle to make concessions to minorities, if minorities have been properly included in and listened to in the political process? Why would there be a democratic obligation to make concessions to one's political opponents when this is not required to create a majority and these concessions would involve a departure from justice? Is it sufficient to include all citizens in the process of decision making via equal rights of participation, or do our democratic ideals also require that all positions be accommodated in policy? These questions do not concern whether compromises are necessary for the well-functioning of democratic politics. No one would deny the latter; that is, no one denies that there are pragmatic reasons for compromise. The question regarding the moral significance of compromise is whether there are reasons inherent in the democratic ideal that requires us to regard compromise as good in itself and not merely a regrettable necessity.

Keywords: Democracy, compromise, respect

Suggested Citation

Rostboll, Christian F., Democratic Respect and Compromise (October 7, 2016). Critical Review of Social and Political Philosophy, Forthcoming. Available at SSRN:

Christian F. Rostboll (Contact Author)

University of Copenhagen ( email )

+45 3532-3428 (Phone)

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