Liberal trusteeship : preparatory work for an epistemic defence of non-egalitarian liberalism
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This thesis examines some epistemic defences of democracy put forward by David Estlund, Michael Fuerstein, Cheryl Misak, and Fabienne Peter, as well as a critique of democracy raised by Jason Brennan. It then develops an epistemic defence of a moderately non-egalitarian system, which it proposes to call liberal trusteeship. According to the proposed theory, the power to draft laws ought to be separated from the power to enact those drafts into law. The former power ought to be vested in trustees, who are essentially specialists that have inquired extensively into a given matter, and the latter power ought to be vested in a democratically elected parliament. Subsequently, this thesis argues that parliament should nevertheless have the prerogative to ultimately override trustees on ethics and pass its own legislation regulating moral matters; that the criteria for selecting trustees should be determined by jury courts; and that parliament and jury courts should be given some powers to influence the composition of trustee committees, so that the political process can guard against the risk that trustees might be biased or corrupt. The above proposal is grounded on three principal claims. Firstly, this thesis argues that moral authority and legitimacy ought to be reserved for the political system that strikes the best balance between competence and equality. Secondly, it argues that liberal trusteeship is more likely than democracy to determine correctly what ought to be done in light of the progress of open and vigorous inquiry into a given matter. Thirdly, and as a result, it argues that liberal trusteeship is likely to exercise power sufficiently more competently than democracy, such that its moderate deviation from political equality will be justified. In the light of this, the thesis concludes that liberal trusteeship would strike a better balance between competence and equality than democracy.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
Description of related resourcesBrennan, Jason. “The Right to a Competent Electorate”. In: The Philosophical Quarterly vol. 61 (2011), pp. 700–724.
Estlund, David M. Democratic Authority. A Philosophical Framework. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2008.
Misak, Cheryl. Truth, Politics, Morality. Pragmatism and Deliberation. London: Routledge, 2000.
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