Counting the Many

Cambridge Studies in the Theory of Democracy

Book 10
Cambridge University Press
Free sample

Supermajority rules govern many features of our lives in common: from the selection of textbooks for our children's schools to residential covenants, from the policy choices of state and federal legislatures to constitutional amendments. It is usually assumed that these rules are not only normatively unproblematic but necessary to achieve the goals of institutional stability, consensus, and minority protections. In this book, Melissa Schwartzberg challenges the logic underlying the use of supermajority rule as an alternative to majority decision making. She traces the hidden history of supermajority decision making, which originally emerged as an alternative to unanimous rule, and highlights the tensions in the contemporary use of supermajority rules as an alternative to majority rule. Although supermajority rules ostensibly aim to reduce the purported risks associated with majority decision making, they do so at the cost of introducing new liabilities associated with the biased judgments they generate and secure.
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About the author

Melissa Schwartzberg is an Associate Professor of Politics at New York University. She previously taught at George Washington University and Columbia University. She received her AB from Washington University, St Louis in 1996, and her PhD in 2002 from New York University. She is the author of Democracy and Legal Change (Cambridge, 2007) and of articles in leading journals including the American Political Science Review, the Journal of the History of Ideas, the Journal of Political Philosophy, and Political Theory. She is a 2013 recipient of the Mellon New Directions Fellowship. From 2010 to 2013, she served as the co-president of the Association for Political Theory.

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Additional Information

Publisher
Cambridge University Press
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Published on
Nov 18, 2013
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Pages
264
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ISBN
9781107433649
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Language
English
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Genres
History / Social History
Political Science / History & Theory
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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This book focuses on Andrew Arato’s democratic theory and its relevance to contemporary issues such as processes of democratization, civil society, constitution-making, and the modern Executive.

Andrew Arato is -both globally and disciplinarily- a prominent thinker in the fields of democratic theory, constitutional law, and comparative politics, influencing several generations of scholars. This is the first volume to systematically address his democratic theory. Including contributions from leading scholars such as Dick Howard, Ulrich Preuss, Hubertus Buchstein, Janos Kis, Uri Ram, Leonardo Avritzer, Carlos de la Torre, and Nicolás Lynch, this book is organized around three major areas of Arato ́s influence on contemporary political and social thought. The first section offers a comprehensive view of Arato’s scholarship from his early work on critical theory and Western Marxism to his current research on constitution-making and its application. The second section shifts its focus from the previous, comprehensive approach, to a much more specific one: Arato ́s widespread influence on the study of civil society in democratization processes in Latin America. The third section includes a previously unpublished work, ‘A conceptual history of dictatorship (and its rivals,)’ one of the few systematic interrogations on the meaning of a political form of fundamental relevance in the contemporary world.

Critical Theory and Democracy

will be of interest to critical and social theorists, and all Arato scholars.
"In modern nations, political disagreement is the source of both the gravest danger and the greatest security," writes Cass Sunstein. All democracies face intense political conflict. But is this conflict necessarily something to fear? In this provocative book, one of our leading political and legal theorists reveals how a nation's divisions of conviction and belief can be used to safeguard democracy. Confronting one explosive political issue after another, from presidential impeachment to the limits of religious liberty, from discrimination against women and gays to the role of the judiciary, Sunstein constructs a powerful new perspective from which to show how democracies negotiate their most divisive real-world problems. He focuses on a series of concrete concerns that go to the heart of the relationship between the idea of democracy and the idea of constitutionalism. Illustrating his discussion with examples from constitutional debates and court-cases in South Africa, Eastern Europe, Israel, America, and elsewhere, Sunstein takes readers through a number of highly charged questions: When should government be permitted to control discriminatory behavior by or within religious organizations? Does it make sense to govern on the basis of popular referenda? Can the right to have an abortion be defended? Can we defend Internet regulation? Should the law step in if children are being schooled in discriminatory preferences and beliefs? Should a constitution protect rights to food, shelter, and health care? Disputes over questions such as these can be fierce enough to pose a grave threat. But in a paradox whose elaboration forms the core of Sunstein's book, it is a nation's apparently threatening diversity of opinion that can ensure its integrity. Extending his important recent work on the way deliberation within like-minded groups can produce extremism, Sunstein breaks new ground in identifying the mechanisms behind political conflict in democratic nations. At the same time, he develops a profound understanding of a constitutional democracy's system of checks and balances. Sunstein shows how a good constitution, fostering a "republic of reasons," enables people of opposing ethical and religious commitments to reach agreement where agreement is necessary, while making it unnecessary to reach agreement when agreement is impossible. A marvel of lucid, subtle reasoning, DESIGNING DEMOCRACY makes invaluable reading for anyone concerned with the promises and pitfalls of the democratic experiment.
All democratic constitutions feature "the people" as their author and ultimate source of legitimacy. They claim to embody the political form that citizens are in some sense supposed to have given themselves. But in what sense, exactly? When does a constitution really or genuinely speak for the people? Such questions are especially pertinent to our present condition, where the voice of "the people" turns out to be irrevocably fragmented, and people themselves want to speak and be heard in their own voices.

Founding Acts explores the relationship between constitutional claims of popular sovereignty and the practice of constitution-making in our pluralistic age. Serdar Tekin argues that the process of making a constitution, or its pedigree, is as morally and politically significant as its content. Consequently, democratic constitution-making is not only about making a democratic constitution but also about making it, as much as possible, democratically.

Tekin develops two overarching arguments in support of this claim. First, citizen participation in the process of constitution-making is essential to the democratic legitimacy of a new constitution. Second, collective action, that is, the political experience of constructing public life together, is what binds diverse people into a democratic peoplehood. Bringing into dialogue a wide range of canonical and contemporary thinkers, Tekin examines historical realities extending from revolutionary America and France to contemporary South Africa and Germany.

A Best Book of the Year: The Financial Times, Bloomberg, Chicago Tribune, and Detroit Free Pres
Malcolm Gladwell, host of the podcast Revisionist History and author of the #1 New York Times bestseller Outliers, offers a powerful examination of our interactions with strangers -- and why they often go wrong.
How did Fidel Castro fool the CIA for a generation? Why did Neville Chamberlain think he could trust Adolf Hitler? Why are campus sexual assaults on the rise? Do television sitcoms teach us something about the way we relate to each other that isn't true?
While tackling these questions, Malcolm Gladwell was not solely writing a book for the page. He was also producing for the ear. In the audiobook version of Talking to Strangers, you'll hear the voices of people he interviewed--scientists, criminologists, military psychologists. Court transcripts are brought to life with re-enactments. You actually hear the contentious arrest of Sandra Bland by the side of the road in Texas. As Gladwell revisits the deceptions of Bernie Madoff, the trial of Amanda Knox, and the suicide of Sylvia Plath, you hear directly from many of the players in these real-life tragedies. There's even a theme song - Janelle Monae's "Hell You Talmbout."
Something is very wrong, Gladwell argues, with the tools and strategies we use to make sense of people we don't know. And because we don't know how to talk to strangers, we are inviting conflict and misunderstanding in ways that have a profound effect on our lives and our world.
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