11th Pavia Graduate Conference in Political Philosophy – Abstract/Prescott-Couch

Alexander Prescott-Couch

Political Equality and Diversity

Many political philosophers believe that there is something objectionable about having a country’s legislature dominated by a single social group. The purpose of this essay is to illustrate how demanding avoiding such dominance is. The reason avoiding such dominance is demanding is that the grounds according to which some collection of individuals constitute a group whose dominance would be objectionable will often entail that politicians constitute such a group. Institutions have to be designed in very particular ways to avoid this outcome. The paper has the following structure. First, I defend the thesis that a legislature fails to be democratically legitimate if it is dominated by a single social group. I will call this the No-Hegemony Condition for democratic legitimacy. I discuss the strength of this condition in comparison to other principles motivated by the same set of intuitions. The No-Hegemony Condition is the weakest (and therefore should be the least controversial) condition motivated by these intuitions. Second, I discuss the conditions under which some collection of individuals constitute a socially-significant group, which I call the Social Significance Condition. This second section is informed by the first section since the reasons a social group will be significant is that such a group poses the dangers discussed in the first section. Third, I discuss the conditions under which politicians constitute a socially-significant group. I then make some empirical conjectures about the sorts of institutional structures that will make politicians into such a group. These empirical conjectures raise worries about the legitimacy of many political institutions, potentially even of certain systems of competitive elections.