In his recent book, Phillip Pettit presents a model of popular control over government, according to which it consists in the government being subject to those policy-making norms that everyone accepts. In this paper, I provide a formal statement of this interpretation of popular control, which illuminates its relationship to other interpretations of the idea with which it is easily conflated, and which gives rise to a theorem, similar to the famous Gibbard-Satterthwaite theorem. The theorem states that if government policy is subject to popular control, as Pettit interprets it, and policy responds positively to changes in citizens’ normative attitudes, then there is a single individual whose normative attitudes unilaterally determine policy. I use the model and theorem as an illustrative example to discuss the role of mathematics in normative political theory.


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pp. 98-117
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