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DYCODE – David Estlund: "Epistocratic Paternalism"

June 13, 2019, 16-18
S 5 (GW II)

We sometimes lazily say that the right against slavery is the right to be subject only to one’s own authority, but that would also be a right against democratic authority or power. Roughly, democracy is symmetrical political authority, and symmetry of subjection is not its absence. If there is a basic human right against asymmetrical subjection, forbidding slavery and requiring democracy, there is still a question whether it is absolute, and if not, what kinds of considerations could outweigh it. The cases of children and profoundly incompetent adults show that humans do not generally have an undefeated right against such subjection, and that the agent’s and the ruler’s competence can be structured so as to defeat it. This paper takes up the question whether and how this set of points bears on a central philosophical question about democracy — whether individual rights against asymmetrical political power (roughly, a right to democracy) can be defeated by the structure of competence to make good political decisions.

This talk is part of the DYCODE lecture series. [Poster] [Paper]

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