How to Justify Democracy to the “Constant Losers” \ Persistent Minorities Revisited

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2019

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A fair game is fair from the perspective of winners and losers alike. A perfectly just political system is in principle fair to all its participants regardless of their specific position, performance, or distribution of rewards. If democracy is a normatively ideal form of government, it should be able to justify itself even to persistent minorities, stable groups who are outvoted continuously. This thesis intends to test the robustness of democratic legitimacy through analyzing whether and how democracy can be a fair play for its “constant losers.” I investigate and critique two major frameworks of understanding the persistent minority case: the pure proceduralist account and the moderate proceduralist account, and argue for a more useful conceptual tool of deliberative power. I discover that the key to unravelling the puzzle of the fairness of persistent minorities is their voice in the political sphere or their lack thereof, rather than simply the abstract fairness of electoral rules as argued by the hardline proceduralists, or the immediate impact of consistent failures in voting on individual interests as emphasized by the moderate proceduralists. My conclusion is that democracy, though not necessarily capable of guaranteeing all individuals equal decisiveness over politics, can reassure persistent minorities of a reasonable chance to make a difference by bringing their voice back to the public space with the mechanism of public justification. It is having a say on public affairs that grounds the moral authority of democracy.

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Su, Yuxin (2019). How to Justify Democracy to the “Constant Losers” \ Persistent Minorities Revisited. Master's thesis, Duke University. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/18863.

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