Res Publica

, Volume 24, Issue 1, pp 73–91 | Cite as

Making Attentive Citizens: The Ethics of Democratic Engagement, Political Equality, and Social Justice

Article

Abstract

Much discussion of the ethics of participation focuses on electoral participation and whether citizens are obligated or can be coerced to vote. Yet these debates have ignored that citizens must first pay attention to politics and make up their minds about where they stand before they can engage in any form of participation. This article considers the importance for liberal democracy of citizens paying attention to politics, or attentive citizenship. It argues that the democratic state has an obligation to cultivate interest in politics and that this obligation authorizes means up to and including some forms of coercion. The argument is that when citizens are inattentive to politics, it undermines political equality and social justice because it undermines what John Rawls called the fair value of the political liberties. The importance of these ends for liberal democratic states requires them to take steps to promote attentive citizenship.

Keywords

Democracy Citizenship Equality Political interest Social justice Fair value of the political liberties 

References

  1. Ackerman, Bruce A. 1980. Social Justice in the Liberal State. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
  2. Amna, Erik, and Joakim Ekman. 2014. Standby Citizens: Diverse Faces of Political Passivity. European Political Science Review 6 (2): 261–281.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Anderson, Scott. 2015. Coercion. In The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, ed. Edward N. Zalta. Metaphysics Research Lab, Stanford University.Google Scholar
  4. Arneson, Richard. 2013. Egalitarianism. In The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, ed. N. Edward. Zalta: Metaphysics Research Lab, Stanford University.Google Scholar
  5. Arneson, Richard J. 2004. Democracy Is Not Intrinsically Just. In Justice and Democracy: Essays for Brian Barry, ed. Keith Dowding, Robert E. Goodin, and Carole Pateman, 40–58. New York: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Beitz, Charles R. 1989. Political Equality: An Essay in Democratic Theory. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  7. Bond, Robert M., Christopher J. Fariss, Jason J. Jones, Adam D.I. Kramer, Cameron Marlow, Jaime E. Settle, and James H. Fowler. 2012. A 61-Million-Person Experiment in Social Influence and Political Mobilization. Nature 489 (7415): 295–298.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Brehm, Jack W. 1966. A Theory of Psychological Reactance. New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  9. Brehm, Sharon S., and Jack W. Brehm. 1981. Psychological Reactance: A Theory of Freedom and Control. New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  10. Brennan, Jason. 2011. The Ethics of Voting. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  11. Brennan, Jason, and Lisa Hill. 2014. Compulsory Voting: For and Against. New York: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Brighouse, Harry. 1997. Political Equality in Justice as Fairness. Philosophical Studies 86 (2): 155–184.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Callan, Eamonn. 2004. Citizenship and Education. Annual Review of Political Science 7 (1): 71–90.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Christakis, Nicholas A., and James H. Fowler. 2013. Social Contagion Theory: Examining Dynamic Social Networks and Human Behavior. Statistics in Medicine 32 (4): 556–577.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Christiano, Thomas. 2008. The Constitution of Equality: Democratic Authority and its Limits. New York: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Daniels, Norman. 1975. Equal Liberty and Unequal Worth of Liberty. In Reading Rawls, ed. Norman Daniels, 253–281. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  17. Dworkin, Ronald. 1996. Freedom’s Law: The Moral Reading of the American Constitution. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  18. Elliott, Kevin J. 2015. Designing Attentive Democracy: Political Interest and Electoral Institutions. PhD, Department of Political Science, Columbia University.Google Scholar
  19. Elliott, Kevin J. 2017. Aid for Our Purposes: Mandatory Voting as Precommitment and Nudge. Journal of Politics 79 (2): 656–669.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Green, Jeffrey Edward. 2010. The Eyes of the People: Democracy in an Age of Spectatorship. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  21. Gutmann, Amy. 2003. Rawls on the Relationship between Liberalism and Democracy. In The Cambridge Companion to Rawls, ed. Samuel Freeman, 168–199. New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  22. Hill, Lisa. 2002. On the Reasonableness of Compelling Citizens to ‘Vote’: the Australian Case. Political Studies 50 (1): 80–101.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Hill, Lisa. 2015. Does Compulsory Voting Violate a Right Not to Vote? Australian Journal of Political Science 50 (1): 61–72.  https://doi.org/10.1080/10361146.2014.990418.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Keane, John. 2009. The Life and Death of Democracy. New York: W. W. Norton & Company.Google Scholar
  25. Key Jr., V.O. 1961. Public Opinion and American Democracy. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.Google Scholar
  26. Kolodny, Niko. 2014. Rule Over None II: Social Equality and the Justification of Democracy. Philosophy & Public Affairs 42 (4): 287–336.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Krishnamurthy, Meena. 2012. Reconceiving Rawls’s Arguments for Equal Political Liberty and Its Fair Value: On Our Higher-Order Interests. Social Theory and Practice 38 (2): 258–278.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Krishnamurthy, Meena. 2013. Completing Rawls’s Arguments for Equal Political Liberty and its Fair Value: The Argument From Self-Respect. Canadian Journal of Philosophy 43 (2): 179–205.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Kymlicka, Will. 1989. Liberal Individualism and Liberal Neutrality. Ethics 99 (4): 883–905.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Kymlicka, Will. 1998. Liberal Egalitarianism and Civic Republicanism: Friends or Enemies? In Debating Democracy’s Discontent: Essays on American Politics, Law, and Public Philosophy, ed. Anita L. Allen, and Milton C. Regan, 131–148. New York: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Lacroix, Justine. 2007. A Liberal Defense of Compulsory Voting. Politics 27 (3): 190–195.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Lardy, Heather. 2004. Is there a Right Not to Vote? Oxford Journal of Legal Studies 24 (2): 303–321.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Lever, Annabelle. 2009a. Is Compulsory Voting Justified? Public Reason 1 (1): 57–74.Google Scholar
  34. Lever, Annabelle. 2009b. Liberalism, Democracy and the Ethics of Voting. Politics 29 (3): 223–227.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Machin, Dean. 2011. Compulsory Turnout: A Compelling (and Contingent) Case. Politics 31 (2): 100–106.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Manin, Bernard. 1997. The Principles of Representative Government. New York: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Mansbridge, Jane. 2003. Rethinking Representation. American Political Science Review 97 (4): 515–528.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. McLaughlin, T.H. 1992. Citizenship, Diversity and Education: A Philosophical Perspective. Journal of Moral Education 21 (3): 235.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Neuman, W. Russell. 1986. The Paradox of Mass Politics: Knowledge and Opinion in the American Electorate. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  40. Nussbaum, Martha C. 1999. A Plea for Difficulty. In Is Multiculturalism Bad for Women?, ed. Joshua Cohen, Matthew Howard, and Martha C. Nussbaum, 105–114. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  41. Pettit, Philip. 2012. On the People’s Terms: A Republican Theory and Model of Democracy. New York: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Rawls, John. 1971. A Theory of Justice. Cambridge: Belknap Press.Google Scholar
  43. Rawls, John. 2001. Justice as Fairness: A Restatement. Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  44. Rawls, John. 2005. Political Liberalism, Expanded ed. New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
  45. Riker, William H. 1982. Liberalism Against Populism: A Confrontation Between the Theory of Democracy and the Theory of Social Choice. San Francisco, CA: W. H. Freeman.Google Scholar
  46. Sandel, Michael J. 1996. Democracy’s Discontent: America in Search of a Public Philosophy. Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  47. Saunders, Ben. 2010. Increasing Turnout: A Compelling Case? Politics 30 (1): 70–77.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Schudson, Michael. 1998. The Good Citizen: A History of American Civic Life. New York: Free Press.Google Scholar
  49. Schwartzberg, Melissa. 2014. Counting the Many: The Origins and Limits of Supermajority Rule. New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  50. Sen, Amartya. 1992. Inequality Reexamined. New York: Russell Sage Foundation/Clarendon Press.Google Scholar
  51. Shklar, Judith N. 1991. American Citizenship: The Quest for Inclusion, Tanner Lectures on Human Values. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  52. Tuck, Richard. 2008. Free Riding. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  53. Verba, Sidney, Kay L. Schlozman, and Henry Brady. 1995. Voice and Equality: Civic Voluntarism in American Politics. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  54. Waldron, Jeremy. 1999. Law and Disagreement. New York: Clarendon Press of Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Wall, Steven. 2006. Rawls and the Status of Political Liberty. Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 87 (2): 245–270.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Wertheimer, Alan. 1987. Coercion. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  57. Young, Iris Marion. 1990. Justice and the Politics of Difference. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  58. Zaller, John R. 1992. The Nature and Origins of Mass Opinion. New York: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Columbia UniversityNew YorkUSA

Personalised recommendations