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Title page for ETD etd-07262007-205921

Type of Document Dissertation
Author King, Christopher Stewart
URN etd-07262007-205921
Title Democracy, Dliberation, and Political Legitimacy
Degree PhD
Department Philosophy
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Dr. Robert Talisse Committee Chair
Dr. David Estlund Committee Member
Dr. Henry Teloh Committee Member
Dr. Jeffrey Tlumak Committee Member
  • democracy
  • deliberation
  • epistemic
  • justification
  • political legitimacy
Date of Defense 2007-05-25
Availability unrestricted
A standard epistemic view of political legitimacy (e.g. Plato’s or Rousseau’s) holds that political outcomes are legitimate if they are correct. There is a dispute between such views, however, about who can expertly produce such outcomes. Platonists believe it to be the true philosopher, while Democrats believe it to be the majority. A standard procedural view suggests outcomes are legitimate for reasons that concern the procedure and not the substantive quality of its outcomes. It holds that the procedure is legitimate if it is fair or conforms to background principles of justice. In this case, democracy is understood as occupying a relatively subordinate role in the framework of a civil constitution. But the substance of justice is disputed; and even if we adopt a view of justice as fairness we have not yet addressed, much less made plausible, the capacity of a democratic procedure to track just outcomes. There are compelling reasons to think that the criteria for justifying democratic outcomes are epistemic. I argue that in order for democratic outcomes to be legitimate the procedures of which they are a product must meet some epistemic criteria. The epistemic features of a procedure enable it to track outcomes correct by a procedure-independent moral standard. Deliberation is a vital democratic procedure since it enables groups of citizens to track the reasons for choosing a course of action over others.
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