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Debating Democracy

Do We Need More or Less?

Jason Brennan and Hélène Landemore

December 2021

ISBN: 9780197540824

256 pages

In Stock

Debating Ethics

Price: £16.99



In this accessible book, leading scholars Jason Brennan and Hélène Landemore ask, what good is democracy and is there any better alternative? Brennan argues that democracy suffers from built-in systematic flaws. There is no way to fix these flaws—we can only contain them, or jettison democracy for a better system of representative government. Landemore argues that our problem is that we have not been using real democracy. Real democracy—in which citizens exercise more genuine power—can overcome the problems we see in modern republican governments. The book concludes with each author responding to the other's arguments, ultimately helping readers see how their views of justice depend in part on how they think democracy functions.

  • Summarizes a massive body of empirical work on voter and democratic behavior, helping readers see how their views of justice depend in part on how they think democracy functions
  • Provides an extensive debate on the issue of when and why collective decision-making goes well or goes badly
  • Responds to the growing dissatisfaction around the world with democratic politics by offering potential solutions
  • Addresses the technocratic temptation induced by the success of China, Singapore and other technocratic regimes

About the Author(s)

Jason Brennan, Flanagan Family Professor of Strategy, Economics, Ethics, and Public Policy, Georgetown University, and Hélène Landemore, Professor of Political Science, Yale University

Jason Brennan is the Flanagan Family Professor of Strategy, Economics, Ethics, and Public Policy at Georgetown University. He is the author of fourteen books, including The Ethics of Voting (Princeton University Press, 2012), Compulsory Voting: For and Against (Cambridge University Press, 2014), and Against Democracy (Princeton University Press, 2016). His books have been translated twenty-four times into thirteen languages. He specializes in democratic theory and politics, philosophy, and economics. Hélène Landemore is Professor of Political Science at Yale University. She is the author of Democratic Reason: Politics, Collective Intelligence, and the Rule of the Many (Princeton University Press, 2012), which won the Spitz Prize in 2015, and Open Democracy: Reinventing Popular Rule for the 21st Century Century (Princeton University Press, 2020). She researches democratic theory, constitutional theory, and political epistemology. She serves as an advisor to the

French government on the use of citizen participation in policy-making.

Table of Contents

    Part I: Brennan - Democracy without Romance
    Chapter 1. How Real Democracy Really Works
    Chapter 2. Is the Solution More Democracy?
    Chapter 3. Democracy: Less Is More
    Chapter 4. Alternatives to Democracy
    Part II: Landemore - Let's Try Real Democracy
    Chapter 5. The Argument for Democracy
    Chapter 6. Objections
    Chapter 7. Against Epistemocracies
    Chapter 8. If Democracy Is Such a Smart Regime, Why Are Democracies Doing So Poorly at the Moment and How Can We Fix Them?
    Part III: Responses by Jason Brennan and Hélène Landemore
    Chapter 9. A Response to Brennan
    Chapter 10. A Response to Landemore


"Could democracy be a mistake? Since it gives an equal vote to the wise and the irrational alike, how well can it really be expected to perform? Couldn't experts do better, and on such momentous matters shouldn't we go for the best? This challenge is traditional, but also currently hot inside and outside academia. As against some others Jason Brennan and Hélène Landemore agree on the problem's fundamental importance, but from there much else is up for debate. As two leading contributors to the lively literature on these questions, Brennan and Landemore deliver a vividly written introduction that will appeal to students, and a cutting-edge debate of importance to scholars as well." - David Estlund, Lombardo Family Professor of Philosophy, Brown University

"The future of democracy is one of the great issues of our time. In Debating Democracy, two of the world's leading experts on the subject debate whether the cure for democracy's ills is more democracy – as Helene Landemore argues – or whether we instead need tighter constraints on the power of democratic majorities, as Jason Brennan contends. Both defend their respective positions with great insight and skill. Scholars and laypeople alike can learn much from this outstanding work. It's hard to imagine a more timely book than this one!" - Ilya Somin, Professor of Law, George Mason University