In the name of democracy

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What do people mean when they use the word 'democracy' From a survey of usage, we discover that democracy is a highly contestable notion. It is spoken of simultaneously as a moral principle, a state of being, and a system of government. But if democracy is a vigorously contested notion, it is not a hopelessly contested notion. Certain regular distinctions begin to emerge, with the most important being that between 'liberal democracy' and 'popular democracy'. Democracy today exists as a concept at war with itself. The resultant crisis for democrats is that they are forced to defend liberal values against popular reform. My own view is that democracy is best understood as pharmakon as both poison and cure. My overall ambition in this paper, however, is not necessarily to defend one definition against another, but only to ask how we might proceed. In this sense, I want to address Jacques Derrida's question of : 'can one and/or must one speak democratically of democracy?'
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)139-151
Number of pages13
JournalInternational Journal of Applied Philosophy
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2015


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