DEMOS 21

The Democratic Boundary Problem – A Function-Sensitive View

Wednesday, October 20, 2021 - 17:00 to 18:30

In response to the democratic boundary problem, two principles have been seen as competitors: the all-affected interests principle and the all-subjected principle. This article claims that these principles are in fact compatible, being justified vis-à-vis different functions, accommodating different values and drawing on different sources of normativity. I call this a ‘function-sensitive’ view. More specifically, I argue that the boundary problem draws attention to the decision functions of democracy and that two values are indispensable when theorizing how to regulate these functions: procedural fairness and political autonomy. While the value of procedural fairness is best promoted through a version of the all-affected interests principle, applied to decision making generally, it is argued that political autonomy is best promoted through a version of the all-subjected principle, applied to coercive decision making specifically. The article concludes by drawing out some practical implications of the function-sensitive view for the case of immigration and border controls.

Eva Erman is Professor at the Department of Political Science, Stockholm University. She works in the field of political philosophy, with special interest in democratic theory, critical theory and methodology. Erman is the author of The Practical Turn in Political Theory (2018) and Human Rights and Democracy: Discourse Theory and Global Rights Institutions (2005). She has also published numerous articles in scholarly journals such as British Journal of Political Science, The Journal of Politics, The Journal of Political Philosophy, Ethical Theory & Moral Practice, Political Theory, European Journal of Political Theory, European Journal of International Relations, Ethics & International Affairs, Review of International Studies, International Theory, and Human Rights Quarterly. Furthermore, since 2008, Erman is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of the journal Ethics & Global Politics (Routledge).

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