How Epistemic Values Shape Democracy

Epistemic values determine the types of knowledge societies embrace. The shift from traditional to cosmopolitan epistemic values has important implications for democracy.  The Social Value of the Intellectual The trial of Socrates captures the imagination of intellectuals, because it reflects their greatest fear. The natural identity of an intellectual relies on a radical sense of... Continue Reading →

The Agnosticism of Political Institutions

Too often theorists describe political institutions as though they are inherently democratic or authoritarian. In truth institutions have a political ambivalence toward normative values. Institutions do not define political regimes, rather they adapt to them. This is the fifth section of my description of democracy and part of a larger comprehensive work called The Democracy Paradox. ... Continue Reading →

The Politics of Violence

The Politics of Violence is an authoritarian impulse present in all forms of government including democracy. This is the fourth section on my description of democracy and part of a larger comprehensive work called The Democracy Paradox. Police as a Coercive Apparatus of the State The trial of Derek Chauvin and the murder of George Floyd... Continue Reading →

Principles of Process, Principles of Policy

The distinction between principles of process and principles of policy is key to an understanding of democratic governance and its theory. This marks the third section of an effort to offer a comprehensive theory of democracy called The Democracy Paradox. Eisenhower Conservatism Dwight Eisenhower is the model of the pragmatic conservative lost from the political environment... Continue Reading →

Mouffe’s Democratic Paradox

The Democracy Paradox differentiates itself from the Democratic Paradox this week. Every week I write a new part as I work through the different components of democratic theory. This is the second part of the first chapter called "Democracy Defined." What is Mouffe's Democratic Paradox? The Democracy Paradox is not the Democratic Paradox. Many scholars... Continue Reading →

What is the Democracy Paradox?

The Democracy Paradox is a wide ranging theory of democracy. Every week I write a new part as I work through the different components of democratic theory. This is the first part of the first chapter called "Democracy Defined." Brief Account of Venezuela Unlike many of the democracies in Latin America, Venezuela’s democracy extends back... Continue Reading →

Meritocratic Ideals Can Undermine Democracy

Michael Sandel describes the meritocratic ideal as a dystopian aspiration in The Tyranny of Merit. Justin Kempf reflects on this book and considers how meritocratic ambitions can undermine democratic governance. What is Justice Justice is an ideal divided between claims of inequality and equality. Philosophers as early as Plato and Aristotle defined it as what each... Continue Reading →

Polarization in Democracies Podcast #35

 Thomas Carothers and Andrew O'Donohue explain the challenges of polarization in many different contexts around the world. Tom is the Senior Vice President for studies at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Andrew is a nonresident assistant at Carnegie and in the PhD program in Harvard’s Department of Government. Together they are the editors... Continue Reading →

Would a Leftist Populism be Democratic?

  In her most recent book, philosopher Chantal Mouffe imagines the potential for a leftist populism.Her book For a Left Populism strives to align her ideas of radical democracy through the vehicle of populism. Justin Kempf reflects on the nature of populism in the piece below.   What is Populism? The irony of populism is it... Continue Reading →

Can Deliberative Theory be Liberal?

John Dryzek is among the foremost scholars of deliberative democratic theory. His book Deliberative Democracy and Beyond: Liberals, Critics, Contestations offers a strong defense of deliberative theory against rival schools of democratic theory. Justin Kempf reflects on this seminal work of deliberative democratic theory.  Liberal Democracy Defined Liberal democracy is a marriage between two independent ideas... Continue Reading →

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