Democratic Respect and Compromise

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Compromise has attained renewed interest among political theorists writing on pluralism and disagreement. It is controversial, however, whether compromise is a mere pragmatic necessity or if it has non-instrumental value. This article argues that the reasons for compromise are inherent in the democratic ideal. Under some conditions, compromise can give greater legitimacy to public policy beyond what is achieved by a mere majority decision, and not merely because of the consequences but because of the very fact that the decision was a compromise. The reason for this is the democratic respect displayed by the act of compromise. Democratic respect goes beyond both the norm of treating one’s fellow citizens as equals and of respecting them as members of the same community. It is a conception of respect, which requires that we treat fellow citizens as co-rulers. Only the latter conception of respect is both sufficient to explain the moral importance of democratic procedures, including compromise, and an inherently democratic ideal.
Original languageEnglish
JournalCritical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy
Issue number5
Pages (from-to)619-635
Number of pages17
Publication statusPublished - 15 May 2017

ID: 178493822