The Non-instrumental Value of Democracy: The Freedom Argument

CONSTELLATIONS 22.2 (2015): 267-278

Among political philosophers there is currently a debate between the view that democracy should be grounded in the non-instrumental value of the public affirmation of equality and the opposing view that holds that we cannot understand the moral importance of democracy without invoking epistemic standards. This debate concerns whether democratic legitimacy is best explained in terms of the inherent features of democracy or whether it is based on the (comparatively) good consequences of democratic decision-making. What is left out — or rejected outright — in this debate is what the author calls the freedom argument for democracy. The aim of this article is to lay out and defend a noninstrumental freedom argument for democracy. The reason why we must accept democratically enacted laws as
morally binding, even when we disagree with them, is that this is a precondition for mutual respect for autonomy and for no one being another person’s master.