Democracy: A Guided Tour (Hardcover)
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How did "democracy" go from a pejorative label for mob rule to the widely shared ideal of enlightened self-rule? How has it evolved as an idea and a set of practices? How have the ways democracy has been practiced impacted the idea of democracy itself? In this short, accessible book, leading democratic theorist Jason Brennan guides readers through the evolution of the concept of democracy and actual democratic practice over time to help them understand the foundations of this longstanding and yet newly fragile political system. In his wide-ranging tour of the concept, Brennan will examine what democracy meant to the Greeks who first developed the concept before examining how it changed throughout European and later Western history. This will open up rich and perplexing questions. Over time, democracy shifted from being a fringe idea to the gold standard of political institutions: how did this change occur? How did the question of who counts as part of the ruling "people" change over time? As monarchies were replaced with democracies, what did theorists think the promises and perils of republican democracy were? How did actual democratic practice change the debates? What have we learned about how democracy functions--and in some cases, doesn't function--and what does this mean for future philosophical or empirical work? Brennan provides a curated, guided tour of the most important arguments for and against democracy, looking through the core values of stability, virtue, wisdom, freedom, and equality. The goal
is to help readers understand what is really at stake in democracy and its alternatives. Democracy: A Guided Tour gives readers a crash course on the evolution of the idea of democracy, how it has been and is currently practiced, and how we might think about it as we head into a new chapter in its story.