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Doubts about "Democratic Legitimacy"

Gardner, John

The idea of 'democratic legitimacy' is central to the Eric Heinze's book Hate Speech and Democratic Citizenship. This contribution considers Heinze's elaboration of both terms in this expression, but especially his ideas about legitimacy. Commentary on Heinze segues into wider reflections on the case for democracy and, in particular, on the implications of an defence of democracy which is based on democracy's achievements as an instrument of good public policy. These implications are not as alarming as is sometimes thought. Nevertheless they explain a kind of double-bind in which democrats inevitably find themselves when the going gets rough (as it has in the last few years in Europe and the US). Heinze's appeal to democratic legitimacy underestimates, or at least understates, the legitimacy-problems that face us now.

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