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The Priority of Democracy:
Political Consequences of Pragmatism
Jack Knight & James Johnson

Book Description | Table of Contents
Chapter 1 [in PDF format]


"Knight and Johnson have written an essential volume for scholars, public officials, and citizens living in the contemporary era. They stress that democracy does not just work by itself. No single design enables every democracy to generate fair and effective outcomes given the vast diversity of circumstances around the world. Knight and Johnson examine factors that increase the likelihood that democratic systems can be effective."--Elinor Ostrom, winner of the 2009 Nobel Prize in Economics

"Knight and Johnson have provided us with an excellent extension of Dewey's idea that democracy and experimentalism walk hand in hand. They put forward a pragmatist or epistemic justification of democracy, arguing that democratic decision making delivers the best answers, and they show us what legal, economic, and political institutions are conducive to getting those good answers. Anyone interested in deliberative democracy will do well to read this book."--Cheryl Misak, University of Toronto

"This is a very important book that has the potential to become a classic. Highly ambitious, it provides a compelling, realistic, and genuinely original way of thinking about democracy. Even if democracy cannot transform interests or produce harmony, Knight and Johnson argue, it has crucial pragmatic benefits that cannot be reproduced by any other forms of social organization, whether markets, courts, or bureaucracies."--Henry Farrell, George Washington University

"This is a major book. It represents a significant advance in democratic theory, contributing to both political economy and political theory approaches to democracy. It addresses fundamental questions of institutional choice and the justification and possibilities of the institutions we establish. In the process it also illuminates when decentralized decision-making is possible and normatively appropriate. Furthermore, it resuscitates John Dewey as a key analyst of democracy, making pragmatism relevant again for contemporary democratic theory."--Margaret Levi, University of Washington and University of Sydney

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File created: 4/18/2014

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