14th Pavia Graduate Conference in Political Philosophy – Abstract/Destri

Chiara Destri

What does it mean to justify democracy? Proceduralism, instrumentalism and independent criterion

In my paper I want to tackle two related issues that concern democracy, its justification and legitimacy. First of all, I intend to clarify a small confusion that happens to blur the debate: the one between single outcomes and democratic procedures. This may seem a minor point, but it is relevant in order to understand that, while we can object that outcomes are unjustified, their legitimacy depends on the kind of procedure that issued them and does not vanish away with outcome justification. If the first intent of this paper is purely explanatory, my second aim is to propose a new ground to draw a line between the two major accounts for democratic legitimacy: proceduralism and instrumentalism. While the latter qualifies those accounts that view democracy as a contingent to realize some further value or interest, the former take democracy to be a necessary, though not sufficient, condition to the realization of other aims. Therefore, the paper is organized as follows.  The first section regards the distinction between justification and democratic legitimacy. I take Waldron’s circumstances of politics to draw a line between the two and I argue that outcome legitimacy depends on the procedure that issues it. On the other hand, since disagreement touches on procedures as well, I argue that they ought to be justified if democracy is to retain the right to rule. Section two introduces a reformulation of the possible justifications of democracy and proposes to use an independent criterion whose connection to democracy, either necessary or contingent, serves as qualifier of the justificatory approach. Finally, I briefly attempt to argue for the relevance of my endeavor.