Two Risks for Second-Order Democracy

by Adrian Vermeule on February 19, 2013

If democracy is to be justified, it will have to be in consequentialist (or, if we prefer, “pragmatist”) terms; and as it seems _prima facie_ implausible to think that all political and social institutions could or should be democratic in a first-order sense, only a second-order version of the consequentialist case for democracy can succeed. Democracy will have to be justified, if at all, as the best second-order decision procedure for allocating competences among first-order institutions, including institutions that are arguably or partially undemocratic when viewed in isolation, such as the administrative state, markets, and constitutional courts. Such is the core of Johnson and Knight’s argument in _The Priority of Democracy,_ and I won’t stop to explain why it seems to me both correct and important.[^important]
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