Reading Group on David Estlund’s ‘Democratic Authority: A Philosophical Framework’


I’m very happy to announce that, starting in January, we’ll be having a virtual reading group on David Estlund’s new book, Democratic Authority: A Philosophical Framework. We’ll read one chapter a week, and each week someone will post a brief summary of the chapter, as well as provide a few questions or comments to help kick-start the discussion. Those who want to participate can then use the comments function to discuss the chapter. I hope that lots of people, not just the initial list of contributors below, will decide to join in. We have a great group of contributors, and David has also very kindly agreed to participate in the discussion and provide his own post at the end. Below is a schedule for the reading group, which lists each chapter as well as the person who will start the discussion that week. See you in January!

Chapter 1 ‘Democratic Authority’

Jan. 14, 2008, Jonathan Quong

David Estlund Replies

Chapter 2 ‘Truth and Despotism’

Jan. 21, 2008, Jonathan Quong

David Estlund Replies

Chapter 3 ‘An Acceptability Requirement’

Jan. 28, 2008, Micah Schwartzman

David Estlund Replies 

Chapter 4 ‘The Limits of Fair Procedure’

Feb. 4, 2008, Ben Saunders

David Estlund Replies 

Chapter 5 ‘The Flight from Substance’

Feb. 11, 2008, Andrew Lister

David Estlund Replies 

Chapter 6 ‘Epistemic Proceduralism’

Feb. 18, 2008, Daniel Weinstock

David Estlund Replies 

Chapter 7 ‘Authority and Normative Consent’

Feb. 25, 2008, David Lefkowitz

David Estlund Replies 

Chapter 8 ‘Original Authority and the Democracy/Jury Analogy’

Mar. 3, 2008, Simon May

David Estlund Replies 

Chapter 9 ‘How Would Democracy Know?’

Mar. 10, 2008, Harry Brighouse

David Estlund Replies 

Chapter 10 ‘The Real Speech Situation’

Mar. 17, 2008, Rebecca Reilly-Cooper

David Estlund Replies 

Chapter 11 ‘Why not an Epistocracy of the Educated?’

Mar. 24, 2008, Blain Neufeld

David Estlund Replies 

Chapter 12 ‘The Irrelevance of the Jury Theorem’

Apr. 7, 2008, Loren King

David Estlund Replies 

Chapter 13 ‘Rejecting the Democracy/Contractualism Analogy’

Apr. 14, 2008, Jonathan Quong

David Estlund Replies 

Chapter 14 ‘Utopophobia: Concession and Aspiration in Democratic Theory’

Apr. 21, 2008, Zofia Stemplowska

David Estlund Replies

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About Jonathan Quong

Jonathan Quong is a lecturer in political philosophy at the University of Manchester
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7 Responses to Reading Group on David Estlund’s ‘Democratic Authority: A Philosophical Framework’

  1. Ben Saunders says:

    I haven’t had a chance to start reading yet but, after a quick glance, this looks like a very interesting book and an excellent excuse to read it all. I’m sure we’ll all profit from the discussion too.

  2. Thanks for organising this Jonathan. I’m very much looking forward to the reading group too, especially since so many different people will be involved and the book looks very engaging.

    Not to get ahead of ourselves too quickly, but it may be good if people were to start having ideas for future reading groups after this. I’m very confident it will work for “Democratic Authority,” so I’d like reading groups to be a fairly regular feature. It would probably be best to not have them run concurrently, but there’s no reason why the organisation for the next group cannot occur whilst the present one is still on the go. I mentioned Christiano’s forthcoming “Constitution of Equality” (May? 2008) a while ago, but that’s just one proposal and I’m sure there are a lot of other books out there which would be good too.

    Also, I’d also be interested if people thought it would be feasible/desirable to host an online political philosophy/theory conference on the website, in something like the way that Thomas Nadelhoffer and Eddy Nahmias organised two online philosophy conferences (first and second) over at Experimental Philosophy. Their model was to have a bunch of papers posted every week for a couple of weeks, with comments from someone else, and then open up the various threads for broader discussion. It seemed to go well, and they have had a lot of very good people and papers. Plus the principle of an online conference is something I think makes a lot of sense, even if it may be a bit tricky to get the pragmatics right.

    [Incidentally, I’ve added a bunch of links to books on sale at Amazon using an “Amazon Associates” tag; buying a book through one of these links helps defray the cost of the website as a whole, so I’m grateful to people who do that.]

  3. I’m more likely if I stick to it if I post here in advance: I’m in!

  4. Jonathan Quong says:

    Hi Simon,

    I really like the idea of an online conference – I’d be happy to post/participate.

  5. Maybe we could make it an online political philosophy pod-conference, i.e. have authors and commentators record podcasts of their papers and put those online in addition to the texts. That way people who don’t like reading a lot of words over a short period of time can at least listen to the papers as if they were at a traditional conference. Except they’d be listening on their iPods as they commute on the train or go out to lunch — submit comments later in the afternoon, and then download another paper to listen to the next day.

    We already have an iTunes directory ready and waiting, and I personally am all in favour of using alternative methods of getting philosophical content into my brain apart from through my eyes.

    Anyway, let’s see what people think over the next while.

  6. Thom Brooks says:

    I think this all looks fantastic and I’m really looking forward to participating in this group. One suggestion for a future group may be Martha Nussbaum’s latest on freedom of religious expression.

  7. Seher Yekenkurul says:

    I agree Thom; I think Nussbaum would stir an excellent discussion. I look forward to reading Estlands’ book myself.

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