The Authority of Preferences

Robert E. Goodin

in Reflective Democracy

Published in print February 2003 | ISBN: 9780199256174
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191599354 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Political Theory

The Authority of Preferences

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This is the second of two chapters on preference democracy. It points out that theories of liberal democracy necessarily require systematic responsiveness to popular wishes, in ways that make them fundamentally ‘preference‐respecting’, but that there are many different kinds of preferences and correspondingly many different ways of respecting them. Different models of democracy are better at providing certain sorts of respect for certain sorts of preferences than others, and which model of democracy liberal democrats want to adopt therefore depends on which sorts of preferences they want to accord which sort of respect. The central claim of this chapter is that the author's preferred model of ‘democratic deliberation within’ is preference‐respecting in the right way, and that it therefore deserves a key role in any larger system of democratic accountability. The different sections of the chapter are: Respecting Preferences, Not Just Recording Them; Permissible Paternalism; Assessing Alternative Models of Preference‐Respecting Democracy; The Virtues of Sporadic Assessments: Preference‐Respecting Arguments for Indirect Democracy; and Combining ‘Democratic Deliberation Within’ and Trustee‐style Representative Democracy.

Keywords: democratic accountability; democratic deliberation within; indirect democracy; liberal democracy; models of democracy; permissible paternalism; preference democracy; preference‐respecting; representative democracy

Chapter.  10302 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Political Theory

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