Democratic Political Theory

Democratic Political Theory

J. Roland Pennock
Copyright Date: 1979
Pages: 598
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Democratic Political Theory
    Book Description:

    Professor Pennock launches an encyclopedic study that evaluates and ultimately synthesizes a variety of democratic theories. After defining democracy and examining the basic tensions both within and between liberty and equality, and individualism and collectivism, the author sets forth two typologies of operational democratic theories, one related to power, the other related to motivation. In succeeding chapters, he analyzes a series of problems with which any operating democracy must contend, and then measures-on the basis of empirical work done in this area-the adequacy of the various theories in dealing with these problems.

    Originally published in 1979.

    ThePrinceton Legacy Libraryuses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-6846-9
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-x)
  3. Charts and Figure
    (pp. xi-xii)
  4. Preface
    (pp. xiii-xvi)
    J. R. P.
  5. Introduction
    (pp. xvii-2)

    This book aims to clarify, to classify, to evaluate democratic theory, and, as far as is possible, to distinguish empirical propositions from evaluative ones, not to keep them permanently separated, but to show how they interrelate and to bring each to bear upon the other. Too often democratic theory has seemed obscure because of fuzzy language, tacit assumptions, and unnecessary entanglement with metaphysical propositions. Too often also, the world of theory and the world of practice have been permitted to travel in different orbits. It is hoped that the present attempt to correct these deficiencies will contribute both to the...

  6. CHAPTER I What Is Democracy?
    (pp. 3-15)

    Both etymology and history suggest that the primary meaning of democracy—certainly at least its original meaning—relates to a form of government. According to the classical tradition it is government by the many, as contrasted with government by one or a few.¹ Other meanings, as implied for instance by Plato's description of the democratic man, were derived either by extensions of the original meaning to other applications than the political or by applying the term to attributes of existing democracies and their citizens. Herodotus defined it as the “rule of the man” (sometimes translated as “the multitude’s rule”) and...

  7. CHAPTER II Liberty and Equality: A Democratic Tension
    (pp. 16-58)

    “Liberty” and “equality” comprise the basic elements of the democratic creed. Yet these twin ideals—slogans on the emblem ofdemocracy—are not easily reconciled. Between them, at best, a considerable tension exists. Liberty, as will appear in the next chapter, is especially congenial to the individualistic pole of democratic theory, while equality is assimilated more readily to the collectivistic pole. Moreover, each of these concepts is subject to internal tensions of its own.¹

    Liberty and equality easily went hand-in-hand when it was a question of the mass of the people being subjected to a ruling oligarchy; but, once “the...

  8. CHAPTER III Individualism and Collectivism: An Additional Tension
    (pp. 59-120)

    This chapter is devoted to an exploration of what may be referred to (with considerable oversimplification) as the individualist-collectivist axis in democratic theory. In fact, we are dealing here with two families of theories rather than with two distinct theories. Differences among members of the families cannot in all cases be described in terms of being more or less extreme, closer to or farther from the other family. Each member, however, generally can be thought of as susceptible to variations in degree with respect to its distance from members of the opposing family. This situation creates some major tensions within...

  9. CHAPTER IV Justificatory Democratic Theory
    (pp. 121-160)

    Following the Second World War, it became commonplace to say that democracy had become the universally accepted political ideal. In countries where Communist parties were in power, to be sure, the day of its realization was deliberately postponed, and part of the prevailing creed was that real democracy could not exist under capitalism, or even in a world in which capitalism remained a powerful force. And in the Third World, lack of democratic requisites frequently prevented democracy’s attainment, maintenance, or at the very least its satisfactory operation. But among the politically aware, barring the power-holders in the few remaining traditional...

  10. CHAPTER V Types of Operational Democratic Theory
    (pp. 161-205)

    Democratic political theory is by no means confined to a single system of logically connected propositions. The discussion of the tensions in democratic theories in Chapters Two and Three underlines this fact. The subjects of those chapters might serve as a basis for the classification of democratic theories. Thus we would have theories emphasizing (or starting with) the individual and theories emphasizing (or starting with) the collectivity; and theories stressing liberty and theories stressing equality. But, as we have seen, these two pairs of theories would overlap considerably.

    Another objection might be made to the whole project of classifying democratic...

  11. CHAPTER VI Conditions of Democracy
    (pp. 206-259)

    In considering the justification of democracy, in Chapter Four, no claim was made that it would in all circumstances be a desirable form of government. On the contrary, the discussion specifically related only to democracy “under favorable circumstances.” I now turn to a consideration of what circumstances are favorable to the formation and survival of democratic regimes. In doing so, especially in conclusion, I shall relate what is said to the key-value (motivational) typology set forth in the preceding chapter, looking for either support or qualification or contradiction of each of the major types of theory included in that typology....

  12. CHAPTER VII Responsiveness and Responsibility
    (pp. 260-308)

    Democracy, it has been argued, is roughly “the multitude’s rule,” organized in accordance with the principles of liberty and equality. In this and the succeeding chapters we turn to the practical linkage between rule by “the multitude,” i.e. the electorate, and the democratic ideals of liberty and equality together with the generally recognized purposes of government—order, security, justice, and welfare. Obviously, the details of such a vast subject cannot be discussed here, nor the myriad problems they involve. What will be attempted is to define and analyze the crucial concepts; to relate the most general problems their analysis reveals...

  13. CHAPTER VIII Representation
    (pp. 309-362)

    To achieve responsiveness and responsibility, all modern governments rely heavily upon representation. Political representation in the broadest sense is not necessarily democratic. In a proper sense of the word, all legitimate governments are “representative.” Thus medieval kings were thought to be made legitimate not only by hereditary right and divine ordination but also by the acclaim of the nobles. They owed their authority as well, at least in some dim past, to the people more generally, or so it was widely held. Part of their office was to see that justice was done, “to protect the poor as well as...

  14. CHAPTER IX Decision-Making Rules and Machinery: Individualistic Theories
    (pp. 363-411)

    The last two chapters have referred to the electorate and to voting as a major device for linking the people with their government. How else is the “will of the people” to be discovered? How else are the people to select representatives, rulers, and hold them accountable? And yet the more the theory of voting is studied, the more complicated it seems.

    Possibly further analysis will resolve the difficulties, but at present it appears to lead to a morass. One writer declares that the problems in strict individualistic theory are “insoluble.”¹ Yet it is on the assumption of individualism that...

  15. CHAPTER X Decision-Making Rules and Machinery: Other Theories
    (pp. 412-437)

    On the matter of decision-making rules and machinery for democracy, these tasks remain: first to consider the matter in the light of the three remaining motivational types of democratic theory; second, to discuss the bearing of political parties on the whole question; and finally, to consider further the relations between decision-making rules and power theories of democracy. The present chapter will take up these matters in that order.

    For this topic, it will be possible in large measure to build upon ground already cleared in the preceding chapter. In brief, if we ask how much and in what direction the...

  16. CHAPTER XI Participation
    (pp. 438-469)

    Among those who theorize about democracy today, the in word is “participation,” or, in many cases, “participatory democracy.” Not that the two are identical. The former is more inclusive and more indeterminate than the latter. At the minimum, participation in politics may mean no more than registering as a voter and, from time to time, casting a ballot. Today critics of the contemporary scene widely believe that even this kind of participation is too low in this country and that it is declining. Moreover, these critics believe that the decline reflects “alienation,” a feeling on the part of the nonvoters...

  17. CHAPTER XII Leadership
    (pp. 470-505)

    An important aspect of any form of political organization is the congeries of functions and qualities known as leadership. In democracy, it involves an especially complicated set of problems, because it is of the essence of the democratic ideal that individual liberty and equality should be maximized and domination avoided. At the same time, it is frequently contended that democracy, even more than other forms of government, depends upon vigorous leadership for its success. One writer declares that “in a democracy everything depends on the character and ability of leaders and officials.”¹ Clearly, between this widely held belief and the...

  18. CHAPTER XIII Conclusion
    (pp. 506-526)

    In this concluding chapter I shall deal primarily with certain themes that have frequently recurred throughout the book. No attempt will be made at a complete summary, but I shall try to provide a framework for a more systematic view of these subjects than would otherwise be apparent. First, I shall say something about the general theory of human nature on which I have frequently relied, explicitly for the most part but without much argumentation. Indeed to give much argumentation would be the subject of another book, but what can be done here is to pull together various parts of...

  19. Bibliography
    (pp. 527-558)
  20. Index
    (pp. 559-573)
  21. Back Matter
    (pp. 574-574)