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Designing Democratic Institutions

Nomos XLII

Ian Shapiro, Stephen Macedo

Publication Year: 2000

As the principles and practices of democracy continue to spread ever more widely, it is hard to imagine a corner of the globe into which they will not eventually penetrate. But the euphoria of democratic revolutions is typically short-lived, and usually followed by disgruntlement and even cynicism about the actual operation of democratic institutions. It is widely accepted that democracy is a good thing. However democrats have much work to do in improving the performance of democratic institutions.

The essays in this volume focus on this difficult and vital challenge: how can we improve the design of democratic institutions? How can public deliberation in democracies be enhanced? How can elections be reformed so as to dampen the excessive influence of special interests, especially those with money? How can democratic institutions be reformed so they can deal with issues that transcend the boundaries of the nation-state? And finally, how can democratic practices better take account of the internal plurality of societies that are ethnically or otherwise divided?

Contributors: Brooke Ackerly, Ian Ayres, Geoffrey Brennan, John Ferejohn, Alan Hamlin, Russell Hardin, Donald Horowitz, Stephen Macedo, Philip Petit, Philippe C. Schmitter, Ian Shapiro, Philippe Van Parjis, Iris Marion Young.

Published by: NYU Press


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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-x

This volume grew out of the annual meeting of the American Society for Political and Legal Philosophy held in conjunction with the in San Francisco, California, in January 1998. The society’s membership selected the topic “Designing Democratic Institutions” by with me to put together an excellent program. I note with appreciation...


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pp. xi-xii

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pp. 1-16

The principles and practices of democracy continue to spread ever more widely, and it is hard to imagine that there is a corner the euphoria of democratic revolutions is typically short-lived,and its attainment seems typically to be followed by disgruntlement and even cynicism about the actual operation of democratic institutions. It might be widely accepted that democracy is a good thing, yet it is equally apparent that democrats have much...


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1. Disclosure versus Anonymity in Campaign Finance

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pp. 19-54

About the only campaign finance issue on which there is a strong consensus is the belief that the law should force candidates to disclose the identity of their contributors. The Supreme Court in Buckley v. Valeo has signed off on such regulation as a means of deterring candidates from selling access and influence in return for contributions. Today there are calls for “instantaneous” disclosure...

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2. Paying for Politics

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pp. 55-74

In “Disclosure v. Anonymity in Campaign Finance,” Ian Ayres broaches a very particular issue in the design of democratic institutions, discusses that issue in a very particular context, and advocates a very particular institutional remedy. The specific issue nations. The specific context has two relevant dimensions. Ayres is clearly concerned with the case of the United States, and, implicitly...

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3. Instituting Deliberative Democracy

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pp. 75-104

I1 take it for granted that we live in an imperfectly deliberative democracy. We recognize, in many of our public decision-making practices, the norm that statutes and administrative action sought to be the result of deliberative consideration of alternatives according to public values. We also believe that public decisions ought to be responsive in some way to the diverse views of...

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4. Democracy, Electoral and Contestatory

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pp. 105-144

I have argued elsewhere that the ideal of democratization—the ideal of bringing government under the control of the governed—has two dimensions.1 It represents both the familiar ideal well: giving them the sort of control that comes from the ability democracy can play this role only so far as it operates in two dis-then I try to show two things: first, that the institutions found in polities that we are happy to describe as democratic display those...


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5. Self-Determination and Global Democracy: A Critique of Liberal Nationalism

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pp. 147-183

Like most eras, ours contains apparently opposing tendencies. On the one hand, processes of globalization challenge the ability of the nation-state to govern the affairs that most affect its citizens. On the other hand, nationalist ideas and movements have lately received renewed popular support. Recent political theory has responded to and reflected on each of these apparently opposing sociohistorical trends. Some theorists construct moral criticisms of assumptions of state...

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6. Fallacies of Nationalism

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pp. 184-208

To begin, I should note that Iris Young and I are in substantial otherwise, that she gives.1 If we have any disagreement on her dis-section of liberal nationalism, it is merely one of degree of hostility to it. But our differences here might turn on little more than conceptual clarification. We might not so fully agree on the value...

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7. Between Philosophy and Law: Sovereignty and the Design of Democratic Institutions

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pp. 209-223

A major thesis of Iris Marion Young’s stimulating paper is that “a principle of state sovereignty lacks moral legitimacy,”1 and that we ought therefore to aspire toward a “global governance system” 2 which supersedes independent nation-states and devolves powers to “self-determining peoples.”3 In these brief remarks I shall discuss this thesis, which I find deeply unconvincing. I shall argue, first, that Young’s thesis rests upon an inadequate under-...

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8. Designing a Democracy for the Euro-Polity and Revising Democratic Theory in the Process

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pp. 224-250

From the perspective of democratic theory, the European Union (EU) is a puzzling entity. On the one hand, the requirement that all of its member states be democratic has provided a powerful stimulus for the transformation of autocratic regimes—first, in southern Europe and, more recently, in eastern Europe. Without stable democratic institutions, no country in Europe can aspire to attaining...


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9. Constitutional Design: An Oxymoron?

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pp. 253-284

Now that the latest wave of worldwide democratization has apparently ended, debates have begun about institutions appropriate to the consolidation of new democracies. Lively controversies have raged about the respective merits of presidential and parliamentary systems, proportional and plurality electoral systems, unitary and federal governments.1 No sooner have...

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10. Designing Democratic Institutions: Political or Economic?

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pp. 285-295

Although Donald Horowitz argues that ethnic cleavages create political obstacles to coherent constitutional reform, the importance that ethnic cleavages take on may itself be a function of the socioeconomic opportunities associated with political power. Horowitz argues that coherent constitutional...

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11. Power-Sharing versus Border-Crossing in Ethnically Divided Societies

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pp. 296-321

It is a pleasure to comment on such an instructive and gloomy paper.1 Its instructiveness was particularly pleasurable, because it helped me see in a completely new light whatever I knew about the subject, not, as it happens, by virtue of any expertise I might possess in political theory but, rather, by virtue of having...

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12. Provisional Pessimism: A Reply to Van Parijs

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pp. 321-328

Philippe Van Parijs has provided a well-considered critique that takes the arguments of my essay seriously, agreeing with some of them and challenging others, always having regard to evidence. Authors can hardly wish for more than a careful, respectful reading. Grateful as I am for having received one, I shall try here to correct some misinterpretations of my work and that of others, as...


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pp. 329-331

E-ISBN-13: 9780814786628
E-ISBN-10: 0814786626
Print-ISBN-13: 9780814797730
Print-ISBN-10: 0814797733

Page Count: 344
Publication Year: 2000