The Volokh Conspiracy

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My Contribution to the Inquiry Symposium on Jason Brennan's Book "Against Democracy"

The article is now available on SSRN.


The academic journal Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy, has a forthcoming symposium on Georgetown political philosopher Jason Brennan's important book Against Democracy. A pre-publication version of my contribution is now available for free on SSRN. Here is the abstract:

Jason Brennan's Against Democracy makes a strong case that democratic majorities' right to rule rests on shaky grounds so long as their ballot box decisions are heavily influenced by ignorance and bias. But his "epistocratic" alternative—empowering the better-informed segments of society—has significant flaws of its own. Ironically, the biggest shortcoming of epistocracy may be that we lack the knowledge necessary to make it work well.

Other participants in the symposium include Robert Talisse and Enzo Rossi and Gordon Alpern. Brennan has also written a response to the critics. Unfortunately, only gated versions of these three articles are available at the moment.

Brennan's book is, in many ways, a counterpart to my own Democracy and Political Ignorance: Why Smaller Government is Smarter. The two works focus on the same problem, agree on many of its causes and consequences, but advocate very different potential solutions.