Chanced upon an article Democracy, Political Equality, and Majority Rule, by Ben Saunders (in Ethics, Vol. 121, No. 1 (October 2010), pp. 148-177).
I think this is really interesting work, for it distinguishes all three terms above, and offers a new option to majority rule. If you recollect, I've outlined earlier the essay in which Hayek offered alternative designs for democracy. And now we have Saunders. All such ideas are well worth exploring. I do not have time to provide detailed comment on Hayeks' work or Saunder's work, but acknowledge that there are significant issues with democracy as currently designed.
Let me note, though, that Saunders is guilty of not referring, even once, to the objective of liberty in his work. So I'd take his analysis with a pinch of salt.
It is often thought that there is a straightforward entailment from democracy, to political equality, to majority rule. It is commonly assumed that if the people should rule then they must do so on an equal basis (since inequality smacks of oligarchy) and that, if all count equally, more votes must count for more. However, democracy, political equality, and majority rule are three distinct concepts and no one of these logically entails either of the others
It is necessary, before proceeding further, to stipulate how democracy, political equality, and majority rule are to be understood:
Democracy: The decisions made by a group must be appropriately responsive to the expressed wishes of the members of that group.
Political equality: Each group member must have an equal (chance of) influence over the group’s decisions.
Majority rule: The option that gets the most votes should be the group decision.
Though a few others have before questioned the central place given to majority rule, less attention has been given to describing alternative institutions.9 I shall outline an alternative procedure, lottery voting, that satisfies the conditions of democracy and political equality.
In lottery voting, each person casts a vote for their favored option but, rather than the option with most votes automatically winning, a single vote is randomly selected and that one determines the out-come.11 This procedure is democratic, since all members of the community have a chance to influence outcomes, but is not majority rule, since the vote of someone in the minority may be picked. It is, as I describe it, egalitarian, since all have an equal chance of being picked. It gives each voter an equal chance of being decisive, but voters do not have equal chances of getting their way—rather, the chance of each option winning is proportional to the number of votes it obtains.
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