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Permanent URL to this publication: http://dx.doi.org/10.5167/uzh-48936

Cheneval, Francis (2011). Constituting the dêmoi democratically. Challenges to Democracy in the 21st Century 50, University of Zurich, National Centre of Competence in Research (NCCR).

Published Version


The original constitution of the dêmos by democratic means (dêmos problem) is a fundamental
problem for normative democratic theory. In this paper, I make an assessment of different solutions
to the dêmos problem that have been presented in recent literature. I find that none of them is
adequate, and thus hold that the dêmos problem remains unresolved. At the end of the paper, I
propose a constellation in which multiple dêmoi are thought to be constituted at the same time. I
show that this leads to a mitigation of the negative consequences that are implied in the proposed
solutions analysed in previous parts of the paper. Constituting the dêmos according to the democratic
ideal is more expedient under the conditions of a large number of individuals having the option
to form a plurality of dêmoi. This overall conclusion means that the democratic legitimacy of the
dêmos itself is critically dependent on a relational setting of relatively open but independent dêmoi.
The relations between dêmoi and the freedom of movement among them is thus not something
which is added to ideal democratic theory as an external and foreign element reducing the legitimacy
of a democracy. Rather, the norm that states that there should be multiple dêmoi that openly
relate to each other is actually part of the hard core of democratic legitimacy.


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Additional indexing

Item Type:Working Paper
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Philosophy
01 Faculty of Theology > Center for Ethics
Dewey Decimal Classification:100 Philosophy
170 Ethics
Deposited On:08 Aug 2011 07:07
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 14:58
Series Name:Challenges to Democracy in the 21st Century
Number of Pages:24
Official URL:http://www.nccr-democracy.uzh.ch/publications/workingpaper/pdf/WP50.pdf/view

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