03 January 2010

Book: Democracy and Its Critics

Still one of the best known books discussing criticisms of democracy is Robert A. Dahl's "Democracy and Its Critics" of 1989 (Yale University Press):


Reviews: "One of the country's premier political philosophers here shares the fruit of years of thoughtful reflection upon the promise and perils of democracy. As he uncovers the foundations of democratic theory, Dahl confronts his readers with the arguments of democracy's critics, friendly and adversarial. The questions raised prove vexing." ("Booklist")

"Dahl defends democracy against various criticisms, including anarchism and its tenet that even democracy is coercive; the normative view that democracy is less desirable than elite rule; and the empirical claim that democracy is impossible due to an inevitable existence of an elite." (David Steiniche, "Library Journal")

"He brilliantly defends democracy against its critics, including those who would have judges play the active role of guardians in our society. Lawyers and legal scholars will benefit from the theoretical context this book brings to the debate over judicial policymaking [...]." (Cary Coglianese, "Michigan Law Review")

Unfortunately a book that treats anti-democratic thought as a mere appendage to democracy theory.

Robert A. Dahl is Sterling Professor of Political Science Emeritus at Yale University.

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