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Accelerating Democracy by John O. McGinnis

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CHAPTER TWO

Democracy, Consequences, and Social Knowledge

DEMOCRACY SERVES MANY FUNCTIONS. It helps capture the preferences of citizens, making the government responsive to what the public wants. Over time responsiveness has become a crucial source of legitimacy for government. It is not enough for a government to reflect the preferences of citizens, however; it has to be perceived as doing so. Thus, on Election Day the public display of the results of changing preferences is as important as the election results themselves. But there is a third, just as important but often neglected function of democracy: its capacity to assess and predict the consequences of social policies. It is this function of democracy—consequentialist democracy—that the ...

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