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ROBERT A. DAHL'S PHILOSOPHY OF DEMOCRACY, …

Tocqueville worried that the equality fostered by democracy would ultimately pose a threat to liberty. Yale political scientist Dahl (A Preface to Democratic Theory) says that Tocqueville's fear was misplaced: it's equality that's in trouble, and the only way to save it and democracy is to extend the principles of political democracy to the business enterprise. Dahl's style is not scintillating--he combines analytical reasoning with empirical data--but the fact that this argument is coming from an eminent establishment academic is noteworthy per se. After positing that a democratic process should meet certain criteria--equal votes, effective participation, ""enlightened understanding,"" control over what is (or isn't) subject to collective decision-making, inclusion of all adults--Dahl faces the hurdle of showing that a business enterprise is as suitable as government for such a process. On the tough issue--can an enterprise's decisions be construed as binding upon its members?--Dahl argues that, in practice, it's as least as difficult for a worker to reject a business's decisions as it is for a citizen to reject a government's. (A citizen can move to a different locality and still be a citizen, but a worker who gets fired or quits does not have automatic entree to another enterprise.) On that basis, all members of the collectivity should have a voice in those decisions. Dahl then fleshes out his vision of economic democracy, adhering to principles of justice and efficiency as well as democratic procedures, and winds up with a benign image of collectively-owned enterprises operating in a market setting with some government control to ensure fairness. The enterprises themselves would be able to reduce internal pay inequalilty--the managerial personnel would not be members of the collective, but hired hands (for whom enterprises would compete)--and that, together with greater equality in decision-making, would strenghten political equality in the nation as a whole. Dahl also sees built-in incentives for the creation of investment capital within the firms that could lead to improved national economic performance. Much of this remains abstract--but it's the argument that counts, and that's worth taking seriously.

11 Robert Dahl | Democracy | Liberal Democracy

Dahl's collected essays give more weight to his achievements as a philosopher of democracy than to his empirical investigations. Nevertheless, they clearly reflect his habit of working close to empirical facts, in particular the problems created for democratic practices by the size of modern political societies, their pluralism, and their intricate involvement with capitalism. His trenchant account, under the head of “polyarchy,” of basic democracy, of the further criteria for full democracy, and of the conditions for achieving democracy at both these levels has established the current standard for discussing democratic theory. Moreover, he clears the way for continuing hope for democracy by demolishing (by arguments supported by observations) the ruling-elite model and advances the prospects of democracy by championing a variety of jurisdictional arrangements for citizens' participation.

Robert Dahl Essay Examples | Kibin

Robert A Dahl Essay Examples | Kibin

Dahl's collected essays give more weight to his achievements as a philosopher of democracy than to his empirical investigations. Nevertheless, they clearly reflect his habit of working close to empirical facts, in particular the problems created for democratic practices by the size of modern political societies, their pluralism, and their intricate involvement with capitalism. His trenchant account, under the head of “polyarchy,” of basic democracy, of the further criteria for full democracy, and of the conditions for achieving democracy at both these levels has established the current standard for discussing democratic theory. Moreover, he clears the way for continuing hope for democracy by demolishing (by arguments supported by observations) the ruling-elite model and advances the prospects of democracy by championing a variety of jurisdictional arrangements for citizens' participation.

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Poliarquia robert dahl analysis essay

A Preface to Economic Democracy - Robert A
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