The Right to a Competent Electorate

The practice of unrestricted universal suffrage is unjust. Citizens have a right that any political power held over them should be exercised by competent people in a competent way. Universal suffrage violates this right. To satisfy this right, universal suffrage in most cases must be replaced by a moderate epistocracy, in which suffrage is restricted to citizens of sufficient political competence. Epistocracy itself seems to fall foul of the qualified acceptability requirement, that political power must be distributed in ways against which there are no qualified objections. However, it is less intrinsically unjust than democracy with universal suffrage, and probably produces more just outcomes. Thus epistocracy is more just than democracy, even if not perfectly just.

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Published in: Philosophical Quarterly
2011 61 Pages 700-724

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