A systematic critique of formal democracy in light of radical democracy: Towards re-politization of the people

Thesis Type: Postgraduate

Institution Of The Thesis: Orta Doğu Teknik Üniversitesi, Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Department of Philosophy, Turkey

Approval Date: 2011


Supervisor: BARIŞ PARKAN


In light of the notions of freedom, legitimacy, equality, autonomy, plurality, publicity and action in the philosophies of Rousseau and Arendt, it can be seen that formal democracy, having ceased to be the expression of the sovereignty of the people, fell into a legitimacy crisis and has become a system which makes the people apolitical. Behind these problems, there are many reasons like the ethical deficiency of the monetarist system, deputies’ abuse of authority and tyranny of the majority. The facts in question have pushed philosophers to re-think the fundamental concepts underlying democracy and search for new conceptions of democracy. Nevertheless, it seems that no political model can succeed unless the people reach a certain level of ethical maturity. In this context, we are confronted with two models: liberal deliberative model which is criticized for giving negative rights priority over the process of public will-formation, and Habermas’ proceduralism which is based on the theory of discourse ethics. Habermasian democracy—which, contrary to majoritarianism, assumes the consent of all people as the basis of legitimacy—has goals like intersubjective understanding through rational justification and consensus in an ideal speech situation. Although it has criticizable sides, being the most appropriate account for our understanding of democracy ethics, which considers politics as a part of being human rather than a matter of governance, proceduralism can be defended with the contributions of Benhabib and Young. In the end, the point is making ethics of democracy prior to political models for re-politization of the people.