Why the argument of freedom fails to provide an intrinsic defence for democracy

These are my notes to chapter 1 in Thomas Christianos (TM) “The rule of the many”, where he explores the argument of freedom as an intrinsic defence for democracy. Feel free to comment as you please.
According to (TM), the structure of the argument is the following: (p17)

  1. Freedom is the fundamental value in politics.
  2. Self-development as a person is necessary to freedom.
  3. Each has an equal right to the necessary conditions of self-development.
  4. Participation in deciding common activities is a necessary condition of self-development.

5.   each person has an equal right to participate in deciding in common activities.
For the sake of the argument, (TM) does not question the first premise, although I will be doing so elsewhere. The second premise tells us a necessary condition for us to be free. This is far from uncontroversial. Let us take a swift glance at a lexical list of conditions traditionally thought to be necessary involved in our freedom: (p18-19)

  1. Being capable of making choices
  2. Being free from interference. (negative freedom)[1]
  3. Having actual means to act according to one’s preferences. (positive freedom)
  4. To live according to one’s will and deliberated principles. This is self-developmental freedom.


Many political thinkers claim that condition 1 & 2 are sufficient for a person to be free. This is problematic notion of freedom, according to (TM). Suppose that you are free to travel wherever you wish. If you, by reasons you can’t help do not afford to travel, but would strongly want to; (TM) at least would say that you are not free to travel as you wish. I agree on his view. The forth premise is more difficult to explain, and has done so very excellently elsewhere.[2] So let us again, for the sake of the argument accept this premise as well.
(TM) presents three different versions of the self-development argument, which are the following: (p19-20)

  1. The direct view: one’s participation is a direct expression of one’s will.
  2. The epistemic view: democratic participation is a process of discovering one’s will.
  3. The constructive view: one’s will is essentially defined by the democratic process.

In the following chapters I will discuss (TM)’s critique of these views and concur with him that none of these views can provide an intrinsic argument for democracy.

[1] See Isaiah Berlin, "Two concepts of liberty" in "Four essays on liberty", Oxford: Oxford University Press (1969)
[2] See Pettit, P & Goodin, R. E (1997) “Contemporary Political Philosophy- an Anthology” Blackwell Publishers, Massachusetts and Will Kymlicka ("Contemporary Political Philosophy", 1990) for an interesting discussion on this issue.

Publicerad söndag, juni 5th, 2005 i Allmänt.

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