October 3, 2017
The Gold Lounge, Stanford Faculty Club

What Good is Democracy?

A Flourishing Society Lecture by Professor Josiah Ober (Stanford)

Time & Location

October 3, 2017
The Gold Lounge, Stanford Faculty Club
439 Lagunita Dr, Stanford, CA 94305, USA

Description

When political tensions rise and groups grow increasingly frustrated with ideological opponents, citizens can begin to question the very structure of democracy. Beyond the provision of material necessities, what is basic democracy—independent of liberalism or other comprehensive political theories—good for? Drawing from his new book, Demopolis: Democracy Before Liberalism in Theory and Practice (Cambridge University Press, 2017), Stanford professor Josiah Ober argued that the exercise of capacities constitutive of humanity and required to participate in the democratic process, namely, sociability, rationality, and communication, is conducive to human flourishing.

Speaker

JOSIAH OBER

JOSIAH OBER

Constantine Mitsotakis Chair in the School of Humanities and Sciences, Stanford University

Related Publications

Demopolis: Democracy Before Liberalism in Theory and Practice (Cambridge University Press, 2017)
Demopolis: Democracy Before Liberalism in Theory and Practice (Cambridge University Press, 2017)

“What did democracy mean before liberalism? What are the consequences for our lives today? Combining history with political theory, this book restores the core meaning of democracy as collective and limited self-government by citizens. That, rather than majority tyranny, is what democracy meant in ancient Athens, before liberalism. Participatory self-government is the basis of political practice in 'Demopolis', a hypothetical modern state powerfully imagined by award-winning historian and political scientist Josiah Ober. Demopolis' residents aim to establish a secure, prosperous, and non-tyrannical community, where citizens govern as a collective, both directly and through representatives, and willingly assume the costs of self-government because doing so benefits them, both as a group and individually. Basic democracy, as exemplified in real Athens and imagined Demopolis, can provide a stable foundation for a liberal state. It also offers a possible way forward for religious societies seeking a realistic alternative to autocracy.”

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