King's College London: political philosophy lecture. Sample containing about 7564 words speech recorded in educational context

3 speakers recorded by respondent number C406

PS2MY Ag2 m (Wolff, age 30+, lecturer) unspecified
HUFPSUNK (respondent W0000) X u (Unknown speaker, age unknown) other
HUFPSUGP (respondent W000M) X u (Group of unknown speakers, age unknown) other

1 recordings

  1. Tape 101301 recorded on 1993-12-09. LocationLondon: London ( lecture theatre ) Activity: political philosophy lecture

Undivided text

Wolff (PS2MY) [1] Okay so last week we looked at the participatory model of democracy which in essence of [...] Russo's Theory in three ways.
[2] First of all, it allows much more room for debate, discussion, dissension, even disobedience in Russo's Theory.
[3] [...] a consequence of giving up the assumption that there's at least an easily recognizable general will.
[4] So either you say there's no general will or there is something like a general will, but it is not easily recognizable and for either reason you would want to be much more tolerant of the role minorities, either as a way of getting to the truth, or erm as a way of as it were making up the truth as you're going along.
[5] So that's the first difference between participatory model and Russo's model there's much more room for debate and consequent toleration of minority.
[6] Secondly, it gives up the distinction between sovereign and the executive in the sense that the people are not restricted only to making laws, but they can also get involved in decisions about particular acts of will.
[7] So for example, er on Russo's model we saw the people are not consultive on the issue of whether the State should go to war or not, because that's a particular act and must be left to the executive.
[8] In the participatory democracy the people would certainly decide that [...] .
Unknown speaker (HUFPSUNK) [cough]
Wolff (PS2MY) [9] The third difference was that the participatory model and it is perhaps the most distinctive about it, extends democracy to other institutions of civil society, including the family, the workplace, local governments and so on.
[10] Now I discussed three objections to the participatory model last week.
[11] The first one is John Stuart Mill's objection which is that we can't leave everything to the people.
[12] At some point individuals must administer, you can't have a committee carrying out the
Unknown speaker (HUFPSUNK) [cough]
Wolff (PS2MY) [13] [...] committee.
[14] You must need some individual point by that committee and the same is true for governments.
[15] So it is not possible, not practically possible to leave everything to the people.
[16] We'll come back to that objection.
[17] The second objection was the problem of agenda setting in a participatory democracy.
[18] How is it that the people come to be discussing certain issues
Unknown speaker (HUFPSUNK) [cough]
Wolff (PS2MY) [19] rather than other issues?
[20] How do those issues get decided and I thought there's no sensible answer.
[21] Thirdly there's the old objection of participatory democracy that it simply takes up too much time and this is not a trivial objection, because the thought is not that it's simply time-consuming, but because it's so
Unknown speaker (HUFPSUNK) [cough]
Wolff (PS2MY) [22] time-consuming, it's destructive of other things we value so that we value er artistic creation, enjoyment, conversation and so on.
[23] These things, there would simply be no time left for
Unknown speaker (HUFPSUNK) [cough]
Wolff (PS2MY) [...]
Unknown speaker (HUFPSUNK) [cough]
Wolff (PS2MY) [24] erm in political decision making.
[25] Okay, so much for last week.
[26] This week I want to start by reconsidering that first objection but we can't leave everything to the people.
[27] At some point we need administrators to carry out the will of the people.
[28] Now the defenders of participatory democracy would consider this as a very weak objection.
[29] What they would say is that we have to, perhaps we do have to leave things to the individual, but we should leave as little possible to individuals, as little as practically possible so that we should the people involved in making all the important decisions, particularly the carrying out of them that we have to leave to particular appointed individuals.
Unknown speaker (HUFPSUNK) [cough]
Wolff (PS2MY) [30] So erm we can cast this [...] in a different context.
[31] We've got really two things in play here, one is the role of individuals who administer and the other is the role of the people, so we have a question of what is the proper role of the people and what is the proper role of the individual administrators.
[32] We've seen the answers from participatory democracy as little as possible to the individuals as much as possible to the people.
[33] At the other extreme we have something like Plato's system, where the people are given no role at all and everything is left to individual experts, individual administrators, so Plato's system is at one [...] everything is left to the individuals, participatory democracy
Unknown speaker (HUFPSUNK) [sneeze]
Wolff (PS2MY) [34] as little as possible is left to individuals.
[35] Somewhere in the middle we have Russo's system where the people make laws but no do nothing else ... everything else is left to appointed individuals.
[36] There's a fourth possibility that we haven't looked at yet ... and this is a possibility of representative government where the people simply elect lawmakers, the people don't make laws they elect the people to make laws.
[37] So in this case the people who carry out the will of the people make the laws on behalf of the people.
[38] So representative government gives some role to the will of the people, some role to the individual to individuals, but erm in a way less role
Unknown speaker (HUFPSUNK) [cough]
Wolff (PS2MY) [39] to the will of the people than participatory democracy or Russo All the individuals do is elect their governors, so this is the ... idea that Russo called not democracy but that to of aristocracy.
[40] We vote in a group of people who then in this view, Mill's view take laws on our behalf.
[41] They also appoint administrators to carry out those laws.
[42] So this is a much more familiar model of democracy to us than any of the others that we've seen so far
Unknown speaker (HUFPSUNK) [cough]
Wolff (PS2MY) [43] and for Mill, representative democracy was the only way democracy could survive in the modern world.
[44] He ... particularly was concerned about problems of scale as a practical problem, that is it may well be in a small town you could have a direct democracy, a face-to-face community where people can talk to each other and argue with each other and meet on a regular basis, but as soon as you get cities, countries, nations, [...] direct democracy of any sort [...] is erm absurd
Unknown speaker (HUFPSUNK) [sneeze] [cough]
Wolff (PS2MY) [45] Well and we have seen one ... response for people now making [...] Mill that is that his objections are not being finessed by computer technology, they don't want to get back into that type of argument, because this is really not the most important argument against direct democracy.
[46] To understand Mill's view or at least to see why Mill makes the argument he does make, er I E not just the argument [...] but other arguments which represent democracy.
[47] We have to understand first of all what Mill thinks the proper function of government
Unknown speaker (HUFPSUNK) [sneeze]
Wolff (PS2MY) [48] and in his view governments have two roles.
[49] There are two things that governments ought to be doing.
[50] Firstly they ought to [...] improve the citizens, both morally and intellectually, so it's the role of the government to make better citizens.
[51] Secondly they have to manage the affairs of government well, or rather erm, so they have to manage the affairs of the state.
[52] What does this second claim come to what is its [...] state of the affairs of the state well, well we should assume that Mill ultimately [...] utilitarian standard so that erm ... to manage the state's affairs well is to maximize general happiness.
[53] However, it's surprising that in on representative government utilitarianism barely surfaces and that almost no mention at all is made of utility apart from in a very general way.
[54] However erm so two things to say about that, I think we can assume [...]
Unknown speaker (HUFPSUNK) [cough]
Wolff (PS2MY) [55] will ultimately apply utilitarian standard, but he doesn't make much of it here and he relies on a much more intuitive idea of what [...] manage things well and he assumes that different branches of government will have different standards of success and that we will be able to tell pretty much whether they're doing well or badly.
[56] Now this is rather a banal claim I suppose that erm the proper function of government is to manage things well, I mean who would have doubted that, but the other claim that governments, one of the roles of governments is to improve the citizens is more surprising, particularly for a liberal view ... and there's a more standard liberal position now would be that the moral well-being citizens is not a proper matter of governmental concern.
[57] Or they should, the citizens should be er stopped from er attacking each other and so on, but whether the citizens turn out to be morally good or morally bad in other ways in private matters, whether they're morally improving or not, is simply not the business of governments.
[58] It is surprising to hear that Mill doesn't hold this view that he thinks that ... erm ... the moral health of the citizens is of concern to the government and it actually gives, although he doesn't seem to recognize this, this gives a hostage to fortune to his conservative critics because of course they can say, did say that liberalism was very damaging of er morality of the public and so we need a far more restrictive type of regime than Mill allows us.
[59] And anyway I'm going to leave that on one side now because it's more erm a problem to reconciling Mill's views about liberty with his views about a proper government rather than directly about governments, so I'm just going to note that and move on now.
[60] Okay well suppose that erm Mill is right that these are the two proper functions of government.
[61] Given that he thinks he can demonstrate, easily demonstrate the advantages of representative governments to show why
Unknown speaker (HUFPSUNK) [cough]
Wolff (PS2MY) [62] [...] is far better than any alternative.
[63] ... First of all he contrasts representative democracy with what he calls enlightened despotism which is really something like places guardianship.
[64] Now Mill concedes that the guardian, the despots might manage the affairs of the state tolerably well that there's no reason of principle why a very enlightened despot couldn't do fairly well, although Mill claims that no despot could do as well as a good democracy.
[65] I found it hard to find Mill's arguments for this, although he seems to be, he seems to be arguing the point over several pages, but erm we get pretty much rhetorical claims and [...] evidence and so he wants us to consider those states which have been ruled by despots with those contemporary states which have been democracies [...] England versus Spain say and he thinks it's obvious which type of system we ought to prefer.
[66] But he's got no, as far as I can see he's got no convincing argument that democracy will do better, but that doesn't matter because he thinks that the decisive criticism of enlightened despotism is that it won't improve the moral or intellectual well-being of the citizens, but if people are excluded from political decision making, they will have no incentive to educate themselves or morally improve themselves, or he thinks if they do, if a despot does allow for the moral improvement of the citizens, then citizens will no longer accept despotism so that despotism is in a way self-defeating here and if it ... [...] one of the proper functions of government it can't survive.
[67] No morally and intellectually well educated people will be prepared to tolerate despotism rather than democracy.
[68] So that's Mill's argument against enlightened despotism.
[69] More interesting is his implicit comparison with direct democracy.
[70] Now he doesn't actually make the concession I think it's consistent of what he says, that he ought to concede that direct democracy might be better at improving the citizens, because after all the citizens have much more to do on in service of the state ... but his view is that direct democracy has the opposite failure to guardianship, that while it might be better at improving citizens it's absolutely hopeless in managing the affairs of the state and his reasons for that is that we need experts with experience in order to carry out the affairs of government and although these people ought ultimately to be held responsible to the people, people shouldn't sit in judgment [...] them in every one of their decisions.
[71] So here he has erm quite a long discussion in the fact that if you have inexperienced people, they will often make the make a quick initial assessment of a situation which is being [...] and rejected by a more experienced person.
[72] So the experienced person will always be able to take the inexperienced person, it's not as simple as that, but if you make the administrators responsible to the people in all their decisions, then you have as Mill says inexperience sitting in judgment on experience, ignorance sitting in judgment on knowledge.
[73] So you have to insulate the, the administrators from direct control of the people if you, if the administrators are going to make good decisions.
[74] The people just have to trust the administrators at a certain point, rather than trying to ... er ... second guess all of their decisions.
[75] So a direct democracy will lead to a very inefficient running of the state.
[76] Therefore representative democracy presents itself as the best compromise.
[77] It can manage the affairs [sneeze] of the state very well and it can improve the citizens.
[78] Well how does it do that?
[79] Why does representative democracy improve the citizens?
[80] Because after all critics will say if representative democracy isn't the best practical realization of democracy but simply a sham, after all remember Russo's comments on England, the people of England think they're free but they're mistaken, they're free once every five years when they elect their rulers.
[81] Now ... Russo then representative democracy isn't a refinement of democracy to make it appropriate for the modern world, but a way of giving away all the merits of democracy.
[82] Now Mill accepts that representative democracy can be as bad as Russo supposes it is, but there are aspects of Mill's views which make him sound very much like Russo as well.
[83] For Mill it's very important that citizens are educated for their role ... and although participation on a na national level has to be something that can be restricted only to the few, Mill nevertheless wants active participation of the citizens in other aspects.
[84] ... So for example he's ... Mill is very keen on the idea of local participation, that everyone should at some point in their lives play a role in local government in some level.
[85] Also he speaks very much in favour of jury service that he thinks that everyone is liable to jury service has a number of advantages.
[86] One is that it makes people ... er ... it gives people experience of participation which is itself an improving ... matter.
[87] It makes people consider issues from an impartial moral point of view.
[88] Also it helps one in practice for voting.
[89] So jury service he thinks is a terrific way of improving the jurors.
[90] He doesn't defend it as the best way of getting the correct decision, he doesn't defend it, or he doesn't solely defend it that way he doesn't defend it either on the idea that people have right to be tried by their peers for example which is the most likely defence now, but he defends jury service on the grounds of the effect it has on the jurors which is quite a novel erm [...] .
[91] In fact there's been some discussion of this lately, John Elston has argued that if jurors knew that that's why they were chosen to go on the jury, it would destabilize the princi the practice of it because if you knew you were going on jury just for self-education rather than to get the right results out the other end, then this wouldn't give you any way of motivating yourself properly for the jury.
[92] Well, I'm not sure that's correct, but anyway Mill thinks that these ideas local participation of jury service are ways of getting people involved at the highest practical level of participation.
[93] So in other words, Mill accepts the arguments of Russo the arguments of the participatory er theorists that participation in government, participation in public affairs is a good thing, people should be encouraged to participate and it has an improving effect.
Unknown speaker (HUFPSUNK) [cough]
Wolff (PS2MY) [94] The worry is, is if we allow participation above a certain level, this will lead to gross inefficiencies in a governmental process.
[95] So there's a maximum level of participation [...]
Unknown speaker (HUFPSUNK) [cough]
Wolff (PS2MY) [96] societies like ours.
[97] He thinks this is an [...] question but in small societies may be a much higher level of democratic erm intervention at all levels would be possible, but it's only in modern societies that participation on a very extensive scale becomes absolutely impossible.
[98] ... Okay so this is a rough sketch of the basic outlines, now let's try and fill in a bit more details.
Unknown speaker (HUFPSUNK) [sneeze]
Wolff (PS2MY) [99] One question that we raised a number of times is
Unknown speaker (HUFPSUNK) [sneeze]
Wolff (PS2MY) [100] when people vote in this democracy, what should they be doing?
[101] Should they be voting in their own interests, or should be they be voting ... out of their view of what is right, what is the good?
[102] It's normally thought that within the utilitarian tradition people should be required to vote on their interests.
[103] Because after all the right decision is to find in terms of general happiness and so you would have thought that voting was the best way of finding out where their general happiness lies.
[104] So there'd be something rather odd about people voting out of moral motivation for a utilitarian because they would be voting their estimate of where the general happiness lies, rather than putting their input into the sum from which someone else can calculate where the general happiness lies.
[105] So it's normally thought that within the utilitarian tradition, voters are required to vote their interests and then the democratic procedure tells us where the general happiness lies roughly speaking.
[106] But Mill doesn't argue this way, Mill argues that erm allowing people to vote their interests is [...] corrupting of them.
[107] If people are voting in their interests, why not then sell their votes to the highest bidder?
[108] They have no obligation to use it responsibly if their, if they can use their vote selfishly.
[109] Rather he thinks that people ought to vote on the basis of what they think is right [cough] so he uses an [...] with the jury service at this point.
[110] He thinks that justice jurors should put their personal interest to one side.
[111] So should voters, it would be rather absurd I think, well Mill thinks, that if jurors were expected to come to a decision on the basis of what they would prefer, would you prefer this person to be sent down or would you prefer them to get off.
[112] That's not the question, the question is is it right for this person to be found guilty, is it right for this person to be found innocent?
[113] Mill thinks that ... voting is to be ideally modelled on this er jury service idea so that's another reason why jury service is so important for all citizens.
[114] All citizens need a highly concentrated er episode in their lives where all they do is think about what is right in the circumstances and this will give them good practice, good training to being an enlightened voter.
[115] Again I'll come back to this point about motivation because it's very important later on.
[116] So erm this is Mill's counter-motivation.
[117] He also realizes that there are certain threats or problems with democracy.
[118] Some of these we've considered before but I'll tell you how Mill feels on them.
[119] One of them, this is not the first in the [...] but one of them is that democracy may well throw up unworthy rulers.
[120] This is the point erm, well Plato made the point that the people we most want to rule us are probably the ones that are the least likely to want to take on that duty and Ben Williams made the same point the other way round that the people who rise to the top in politics are likely to be the ones that we would least like to have governing us.
[121] So I think I made this point before that the people who are right at the top of politics are the ones who are very good at flattery, duplicity, manipulation and so on and these, are these really the qualities we want in our government?
[122] So, Mill thinks we need erm ...
Unknown speaker (HUFPSUNK) [...]
Wolff (PS2MY) [123] Thanks.
[124] Mill thinks we need certain safeguards to make sure that unworthy rulers don't present themselves.
[125] One thing he says which is ... erm a current topic [...] is that we should limit the election expenses of any candidate.
[126] His thought is that how can we trust anyone who's prepared to pay their own money to get elected?
[127] If someone is going to put off a lot of their own money in order to get into parliament, we can, then we can hardly trust them to look to the general interests once they're there, they'll want a return on their investment of some sorts.
[128] So anyone who's putting up a lot of their own money is untrustworthy and there should be limitation on how much people can stand, erm Mill actually goes into some figures at this point and rather quaintly says erm either fifty pounds or a hundred pounds ought to be adequate and I don't know what that translates to now.
[129] Erm, so there should be a limitation of election expenses.
[130] In fact [...] makes the claim that election expenses ought to be met from the public purse rather than the private purse of the candidates
Unknown speaker (HUFPSUNK) [cough]
Wolff (PS2MY) [131] [...] tax revenues and I should think Mill would be happy with that idea.
[132] Although erm his second idea second way of limiting the possibilities on [...] is rather more difficult to accept now ... and his claim is that we shouldn't pay members of parliament, that people who go to parliament ought to be doing it out of duty and not out of er [...] interest.
[133] What he says is that erm ... you know when he was writing of six hundred and fifty eight seats in parliament, I don't know how many there are now, but he says if we allowed for people to be paid, then we have as it were six hundred and fifty eight prizes to people's [...] six hundred and fifty eight jobs for people and he says and this is rather astonishing to hear, to read this is that it will attract adventurism of low class to er parliament if we pay members of parliament.
[134] Well what about those people who are morally worthy, I take it when he says low class, he doesn't mean low moral class, but mean low social class as well he probably means both things actually.
[135] What about those people of a low social class who are of a high moral class, what about them?
[136] Well he gives the example of a contemporary member of parliament, Mister Andrew Marvel who apparently was erm, because members of parliament were not paid at this time, he was sponsored by his constituents, so they subscribed to a [...] he was so good they managed to subscribe to [...] and he thinks that this is the ideal solution, if someone is really worthwhile, then their constituents would be happy to pay their salary directly, rather than, than have salaried jobs.
[137] Okay so this strikes us as a rather eccentric claim er he does qualify it, he says that there may be cases where there aren't enough people of independent means in a country to present themselves, he doesn't mean England here he means some of the dependent territories and then members of parliament should be paid compensation rather than a salary.
[138] So in other words they should be paid the salaries they would have been got getting in whatever their other line of work would have been, rather than special rates of the job of an M P.
[139] I mean it may well be that we have in this country we have erm pretty much Mill's system because MPs get paid relatively little bearing in mind what most of them could be getting elsewhere, so maybe we've got something like Mill's system but it strikes us as rather a bizarre suggestion that MPs shouldn't be paid to prevent adventurous and lower classes becoming MPs.
[140] Okay so we have safeguards against unworthy rulers, much more important though Mill is worried about people voting on the wrong motives.
[141] So I've said before that erm ... Mill wants people to vote just in the same way that people cast their votes in a jury on the basis of what's right.
[142] He realizes that they can't, people can't be guaranteed to do this and he points out there are four different motivations that people might have that conflict with the er moral motivations.
[143] First of all there's personal interest, secondly there's class interest ... thirdly there's rather amusingly some mean feeling in his own mind, so he has the idea that people might just be rather grumpy or something when they're going to cast their, their vote and go to some rather destructive policy.
[144] I suppose you might think in a case now you might think that er ... er certain people aren't entitled to welfare benefits or something that [...]
Unknown speaker (HUFPSUNK) [cough]
Wolff (PS2MY) [145] [...] and vote for the parties that excludes them, but that mean the sort of thing he [...] he doesn't make much of that.
[146] Fourthly erm there's the problem of coercion that is some people might be forced to cast their vote one way or another or feel they're forced to cast a vote one way or another ... erm which is something we are less erm familiar with.
[147] The reason why we're less familiar with that is that we have a secret ballot and so there is no way of knowing how someone has cast their vote, and so there's no way of effectively forcing someone to cast their vote one way or another.
[148] However, Mill was against a secret ballot, Mill thought votes ought to be cast publicly and the reason for this is that he thought people ought to be voting on their view of what is right and so therefore they ought to be publicly accountable.
[149] People are much less likely to vote in their own interests, much less likely to vote in their class interests if other people know how they're voting.
[150] Mill also thinks this is a very good way of introducing female suffrage at this point which he is very much in favour of, if you had a, if you had a vote on it should if you vote if er there was a ... vote among the male electors about whether women should be given the vote and there was a public ballot, then it's very unlikely they would vote against the extension of franchise because their wives and daughters would be able to see what they've done, so he thinks that erm the only reason for having a secret ballot is that you're rather ashamed of what you're doing and that if you have a public ballot people will vote much more responsibly.
[151] Now Mill realizes that the objection to this is the last problem coercion, that if people's votes are known, then some people might be able to put pressure on others to vote one way rather than another and as I said why the secret ballot was brought in in the first place.
[152] For Mill's view is that coercion is now less of a worry than people voting on their class interest or their personal interest.
[153] ... Er here erm you can form your own views about whether Mill's right or wrong, I mean that the situation of a secret ballot was brought in to erm overcome as one where the local industrist industrialist who employed half the member of the town was also standing for parliament.
[154] Now erm in this case would your job be safe if your vote was known and you didn't vote for your boss?
[155] I mean it seems to me in those cases a secret ballot is highly desirable and coercion would be more of a danger than people voting er from the mo wrong moral motivation.
[156] But it might just be that we can't have both and we can't ensure that people vote from the right from moral motivation rather than personal interest and we can't ensure [...] vote
Unknown speaker (HUFPSUNK) [cough]
Wolff (PS2MY) [157] on coercion
Unknown speaker (HUFPSUNK) [cough]
Wolff (PS2MY) [158] erm ... at the same time so perhaps other remedies are necessary.
[159] Now the other remedies [...] have is one which is rather distinct of Mill
Unknown speaker (HUFPSUNK) [cough]
Wolff (PS2MY) [160] that he thinks that erm [cough] of all of these forced motivations class interest is the most damaging ... and ... he argues there's a remedy for this, we'll see why it's a remedy in a minute, that certain people ought to be given more than one vote ... so that although everyone should have some votes, not everyone should have the same number of votes.
[161] In particular he thinks the educated should have at least two votes, he doesn't say how many erm that's a matter determined case-by-case I take it, erm erratically it could be a thousand votes I mean he doesn't rule that out, he doesn't say it has to be more than one er [...] two, but erm his view is that the educated to a specially privileged in a specially privileged position because they are erm more able to use their vote sensibly or to be given more than one vote, so we need now there's going to be a question erm how do you know who the educated people are to make such suggestions, anyone with a university degree will be pleased to hear gets more than one vote on Mill's system.
[162] Anyone who enters the liberal profession so accountancy, medical and so on erm he made some other suggestions which we'll look at shortly.
[163] But there is something of a tension in Mill's view, because he thinks that erm ... it's very important that if there is plural voting then the people who only have one vote should be prepared to accept the situation, so that the reasons why these people are given extra votes should be reasoned that the public, the uneducated accept ... past critics have pointed out if that's going to be the case, why is it necessary to give these people extra votes, give the educated actual votes, because if the uneducated accept that the decisions of the educated are worth more than their own decisions, the opinions of the educated are worth more than the opinions of the uneducated, if they really do accept that, what's to stop them just following the decisions of the educated in their own vote?
[164] Why not simply take advice?
[165] So there's no reason why these people should be given more votes rather their superior status can be ... recognized by giving them more informal influence.
[166] I was actually astonished to find Mill making exactly this argument against another proposal in erm a later chapter because he considers a possibility and some people have put forward the view apparently, I haven't heard of this, erm in the version that Mill discusses, that the two stage [...] action where we vote for people who then go to vote for the members of parliament so the individual people don't vote directly for members of parliament but they vote for [...] people who then have elections an election among themselves.
[167] This is rather like the American system of presidential elections except that in the American system, the people who are voted for are tied to a particular candidate, so it's really just erm a convoluted way of having a direct system rather than a genuinely indirect system here.
[168] But Mill considers what, what reasons could there possibly be for having this two stage process.
[169] The arguments given in favour is that we vote for the wise and then the wise go on to make a proper final decision about who's best.
[170] Mill says exactly what I just said in response of him that is if the people are prepared to accept these [...] why [...] what's to stop them consulting and asking for advice about how they should cast their vote and so Mill later on gives a response to his own suggestion about plural voting in effect without realizing that what he's done.
[171] Anyway that's not important, the important thing is that he makes this, this idea that the educated should be erm given plural votes, in order to protect democracy being distorted by class interest.
[172] Now the most important threat to democracy and the way in which class interest may establish itself is Mill thinks through stupidity and this is the most er challenging threat to democracy.
[173] The, the, the numerical majority he says may just not have the intelligence to make the right decisions and what he's particularly concerned about is that the uneducated poor who he calls the numerical majority will vote to equalize property.
[174] Now his ... argument against this is not that [...] actual right to property, but it's actually against the interests of the uneducated poor to equalize property [...]
Unknown speaker (HUFPSUNK) [cough]
Wolff (PS2MY) [175] if property is equalized then the economy will [...] so he uses some sort of incentive argument here and maybe some sort of [...] undertones here that inequalities are necessary to make the worse off better off than they would have been without them, but he thinks the uneducated poor may well be too stupid
Unknown speaker (HUFPSUNK) [cough]
Wolff (PS2MY) [176] to understand this so they may go to their immediate selfish interest rather than their long-term interest.
[177] There's a further point that the effects of the policy may not strike in the ... first generation anyway, it may be long-term before er equalization of property has the [...] effect and other things [...] so these people might, might vote in their own class interest against the interest of future generations.
[178] Now Mill seems to be very unsure what to do about this because he doesn't want to say that the poor should be disenfranchised, because after all everyone is entitled to their say in government, but he does seem to be worried that if the poor are given an equal say or the uned uneducated poor are given an equal say, then they will make a very bad decision, a decision which is against their own interests ... and this is one reason why he favours plural voting because he recognizes that the numerical majority might make a ... erm wrong decision, so we should make sure that the numerical majority don't have sway in a democratic process by giving another client more weight in it ... so he seems to [...] between wanting to disenfranchise them altogether which he seems to consider and just emasculating their vote by giving other people more votes.
[179] In fact one thing he says er which might make you doubt his motives somewhat is that the reason for giving people more than one vote is that they're more educated, but in general there is also a rough correlation between property ownership and education and so there's a good reason [...] to give the property owners more than one vote, people who own a lot of property more than one vote.
[180] Now he says that someone who doesn't hold much property can prove that they're educated they should get the extra votes too, but you don't seem, you don't have to prove that you're er educated if you're rich you just get the votes anyway because that's a good [...] .
[181] Now actually Mill did put the his erm ... this proposal forward, he was a member of parliament for a few years and he was trying to get this discussed in parliament.
[182] No one seemed very interested in it.
[183] Well what this springs up is the issue, one of the issues we started with which is democracy in the tyranny of the majority is what Mill recognizes is is that a maj well ... he claims to be concerned that the majority will make a decision which is against the interests of everyone, but he's equally concerned about the issue that the majority might make a decision which is against the interests just of a picked-on minority, people with unpopular views, people who hold er members of a different religion and so on.
[184] ... So erm ... Mill wants to protect minority from within the democratic procedure, that is he wants to set up erm a system of democracy which is as it were proof against majority corruption.
[185] One way in which he does that he thinks is by plural voting, that you give the educated more than one vote, he says we have to make sure the educated don't form their own class with their own class interests, but, but giving the educated a bigger say will lead us to make better decisions he thinks.
[186] But he also endorses a very elaborate system of proportional representation with a single-transferable vote erm this is in the chapter called [...] voting erm it seems to me actually his system is incoherent, but he doesn't think that, I mean he argues very strongly in favour of it and various [...] it.
[187] His idea is that you can vote if if the voter in your constit if a person you vote for in your own constituency loses, you can then switch your vote to anyone else in the country and erm you can have a list of maybe ten or twenty people and erm you will ... so you'll hand in your ballot paper with all these names on, signed ballot paper because it has to be public you can hand in your signed ballot paper with all these names on and if your own candidate loses, then er your vote goes to your second person and if that person loses it goes to the third and so on.
[188] The incoherence I think is that you can't ever say that anyone has lost because you don't know what's happening in the second and third and fourth erm batch, so I can't see how this system is meant to work, Mill seems to be fairly confident that it will.
[189] So he has an interesting idea that we can set up democratic procedures to protect the minority within those procedures so that tyranny of the majority is something that afflicts only certain types of democracies, but if we have other types of democracies then we can protect the minority ... and the idea for proportional representation is often claimed in this light, but actually it doesn't work as an idea, because although it allows a minority to be represented, [...] represented is a different [...] from being protected and so even if there's a member of parliament with the [...] one member of parliament with your unpopular views, that doesn't mean that your unpopular views won't be made illegal say, because the fact that there's one member of parliament won't mean that [...]
Unknown speaker (HUFPSUNK) [cough]
Wolff (PS2MY) [190] so his procedure doesn't work.
[191] There are other ways people have tried to protect the minority, one is by saying that the, that you can generate a certain set of rights from within the democratic procedure in a different way, that is if democracies flourish people need certain liberties, people need to express their own opinions, people need to be able to do what erm assemble where they need to and so on but more common is the view that democracy should be limited by constitutional [...] would present the minority and this is a view that Mill doesn't really defend in representative government although it seems to be very close to his view and on liberty, that is we limit the spear that this government has control over so we can't, so in this view erm democracy is given a very limited role.
[192] It's very interesting to note that in contemporary political philosophy there is almost no room left for democratic decision making because in most theories that we're given, more or less everything is already decided at a constitutional level I mean think of [...] theory of justice, it's the theory of justice that decides the basic nature of a constitution so the role of members of a government is simply to interpret and apply the constitution so they can make the most efficient tax policies given the basic constitution, but no individual has the authority to ... challenge that constitution and change it by democratic means.
[193] To [...] it's even worse I mean there, there doesn't even seem to be a government in the [...] there's just a police force and an army and no one making political decisions, so it's a peculiarity of recent political philosophy there seems to be no room left for the democratic process to do much apart from administer, so the democracy is given a very minor role.
[194] ... Okay so I think that erm ... some of Mill's system he has given us ... and accounted them a type of theory of democracy but seems to me deeply [...] by [...] between two ideas, one is that everyone will have a say in government and the other is they shouldn't be allowed decisive say if they are going to say the wrong thing so that on the one hand we have democratic equality of a source, on the other hand we have an independent theory of the good and a democratic process should be allowed to disrupt the good of the nation ... and Mill just doesn't seem to be able to ... put these two elements in erm proper coherent fashion.
[195] ... So what should we conclude about our own system on the [...] well we do have a representative democracy here, it's very unlike Mill's recommended scheme.
[196] We have no idea what people are meant are meant to be doing when they're voting, this was a problem I raised [...] are people meant to be expressing their interest, are people meant to be voting like members of a jury?
[197] We're not told and it doesn't say on your ballot paper please be sure to remember you're voting on what you think is right rather than what is in your personal interest, you were just asked to vote.
[198] So how can we defend the system that we've got?
[199] Well, it seems that ... none of the arguments that have been used so far would come close to defending the type of system that we've got.
[200] Now critics of contemporary systems say so much for the worse for contemporary system, we have to move to one of the other models, maybe [...] suitably amended and only then will we be truly free and equal.
[201] The best I think we can say about our scheme is something that Brian Barry argues.
[202] It's in a paper I didn't put on the reading list because most of it is not relevant, it's called Is Democracy Special? and this in his collective papers.
[203] What Barry says is simply this that suppose we accept the point that authority structures are now necessary, that we couldn't have anarchy we have to have [...]
Unknown speaker (HUFPSUNK) [cough]
Wolff (PS2MY) [204] people in control.
[205] ... Well in a modern world we've lost the faith that certain people are appointed by God to do this for us, or especially naturally fitted to do it, so how are we going to accept the rule of some people rather than others?
[206] Well he thinks the only way that modern will accept the rule of one person rather than another is if they think they're somehow there as a result of ... their own action, so we'll only accept the rule of erm ... our leaders if we think we put them there and we take them back again, we put them there and can recall them and this for Barry is the only merit that contemporary democratic ... policy ... democratic erm systems that it allows us to think of our rulers as having some legitimate claim to rule.
[207] Without democracy we wouldn't be able to say ... who should rule, with democracy we can we can say these people because we voted for them and that's it, we can't say these people [...] interests we can't say that these people act in [...] common good although if they do very badly we'll try and recall them, all we can say is they're there we need, what we need is authority structures, we need the structures more than the people occupying the roles, someone's got to occupy the roles and this is the only way we've got of appointing them.
[208] So on that very depressing note, er I'll leave we've got a few minutes for ... questions or objections if anyone wants to, we've got some head shaking.
Unknown speaker (HUFPSUNK) [...]
Wolff (PS2MY) [209] Right.
Unknown speaker (HUFPSUNK) [210] Er. [...]
Wolff (PS2MY) [211] Right, I'm not sure how [...]
Unknown speaker (HUFPSUNK) [...]
Wolff (PS2MY) [212] [...] Anyone else?
Unknown speaker (HUFPSUNK) [...]
Wolff (PS2MY) [213] Based on?
Unknown speaker (HUFPSUNK) [...]
Wolff (PS2MY) [214] Well everyone has, everyone is entitled to vote and he also thinks that if the time is right when unmarried women were [...] property and he thought it wouldn't be long before married women to hold property too, so he was also he wanted to reform the Married Women's Property Act.
Unknown speaker (HUFPSUNK) [215] What's your own view in a nutshell the way forward to democracy?
Wolff (PS2MY) [216] Don't have one, sorry.
[217] Er I was, I was hoping to find one but er [...] er yep
Unknown speaker (HUFPSUNK) [...]
Wolff (PS2MY) [218] Right so there's a thought that somehow democracy ought to be self-justifying erm ... the well I mean ... quite a long way [...] actually [...] two types of justification of democracy, instrumental and [...] erm Mill is defending democracy surely instrumentally and we might want to say democracy has its [...] justification of freedom and equality.
Unknown speaker (HUFPSUNK) [...]
Wolff (PS2MY) [219] But we still need to know how, I mean maybe in a participatory democracy we can defend freedom and equality to the system not in [...] it seems absurd to say that democracy we have now is a way of embodied freedom I mean maybe [...] weak notion of equality, but nothing [...]
Unknown speaker (HUFPSUNK) [...]
Wolff (PS2MY) [220] No this is the last lecture.
[221] Right, well that seems to be it.
[222] Thanks very much.