The Masses and the Elites: Political Philosophy for the Age of Brexit, Trump & Netanyahu

31 Pages Posted: 27 Jan 2017 Last revised: 16 Mar 2017

David Enoch

Hebrew University - The Philosophy Department and the Law School

Date Written: January 26, 2017

Abstract

Recent political developments leave liberal elites heart-broken and rather desperate. Why is it that the masses keep making poor, morally unacceptable, anti-democratic, irrational choices?

Among the many voices heard in this context, there are also those criticizing those elites from the left. The elites, these voices imply, are guilty not just of past wrongs that have gotten us here, but also of patronizing the masses right now, arrogantly failing to take seriously the masses and their concerns.

I argue that such complaints – perhaps appearances to the contrary notwithstanding – are every bit as patronizing and arrogant in their attitudes towards the masses they claim to respect, and proceed to discuss the question whether the elites should reason with the masses, or manage them (spoiler alert: both). This practical discussion leads to more theoretical ones about justification and excuse in the public sphere, practical and epistemic reasons for belief, and ideal and non-ideal theory in political philosophy.

Keywords: Political Philosophy, Ideal and Non-Ideal Theory

Suggested Citation

Enoch, David, The Masses and the Elites: Political Philosophy for the Age of Brexit, Trump & Netanyahu (January 26, 2017). Hebrew University of Jerusalem Legal Research Paper No. 17-13. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2906292

David Enoch (Contact Author)

Hebrew University - The Philosophy Department and the Law School ( email )

Mount Scopus, 91905
Israel

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