The Democratic Boundary Problem Reconsidered

Publication year: 2018

Arrhenius, Gustaf

Ethics, Politics & Society. A Journal in Moral and Political Philosophy, N. 1, 2018, pp.89-122.


Who should have a right to take part in which decisions in democratic decision making? This “boundary problem” is a central issue for democracy and is of both practical and theoretical import. If nothing else, all different notions of democracy have one thing in common: a reference to a community of individuals,
“a people”, who takes decision in a democratic fashion. However, that a decision is made with a democratic decision method by a certain group of people doesn’t suffice for making the decision democratic or satisfactory from a democratic perspective. The group also has to be the right one. But what makes a group the right one? The criteria by which to identify the members of the people entitled to participate in collective decisions have been surprisingly difficult to pin down. In this paper, I shall revisit some of the problems discussed in my 2005 paper in light of some recent criticism and discussion of my position in the literature, and address a number of new issues.

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