Democratic Limits: Individual Rights and Boundary Problems in Shared Rule
Dr Luis Cabrera
Date: 21 November 2012
Location: 0.22, 65-68 Park Place
Dr Luis Cabrera (University of Birmingham)
Boundary problems, focused on establishing who ‘the people’ are for the purposes of rule by the people, have increasingly been treated as central to democratic theory. Some influential recent accounts have advocated establishing much more geographically expansive participatory boundaries, up to the fully global level. Such an expansion would be designed to better match decision makers to decision takers in a more integrated global system, or to appropriately account for coercion to which all are said to be subjected by political boundaries. These approaches, however, offer at best an incomplete solution to the problems they identify. Broader enfranchisement, that is, may be no guarantee that those feeling the effects of decisions will be able to adequately protect themselves, and it may promote autonomy for some at the cost of heteronomy for others. Issues arising within both approaches point to the need to a more comprehensive, rights-based alternative to setting political boundaries. This would begin not with democratic decision procedures, but with establishing rights-based limits on them. Imperatives to protect and promote individual rights also would inform the setting, and very likely expanding, of territorial limits on political communities, as well as embedding polities within broader sets of political institutions, up to the global level. Further, it would recommend a range of enhancements to rights protections that are not strictly based in binding democratic procedures, and thus which could be more feasibly achieved in the near term.
Notes on the presenter: Luis Cabrera is Reader in Political Theory at the University's of Birmingham's Department of Political Science and International Studies (POLSIS).