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Chapter Three. Consent and Democracy. In chapter 5, Hamptom attempts to generate a new theory which is a type of consent-based view, using tools of contemporary social science, ideas from recent work in philosophy of law, economics, and game theory.

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chapter three

Chapter Three

Consent and Democracy

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In chapter 5, Hamptom attempts to generate a new theory which is a type of consent-based view, using tools of contemporary social science, ideas from recent work in philosophy of law, economics, and game theory.
  • “This chapter has tried to show that the convention model of political authority can be developed in a plausible and robust form, in a way that sheds light on the structure of modern democracies.” p. 112
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Summaryof chapter 5 (“this chapter is by far the hardest in the book, and some readers may find it a little daunting.”):
  • The convention model represents political authority as something invented by the people through their participation in a governing convention by which they give what I call convention consent to their regimes. Such consent is insufficient to morally legitimate the regime in full,
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but it forms the foundations for such legitimation insofar as regimes that do not receive such consent and operate as systems of mastery in which the power structure is sustained purely by force and not by people’s participation in a convention cannot be morally justified. The invention of political authority involves creating authoritative offices such that when officeholders issue commands, they give the rest of the populace reasons to perform actions that preempt
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other reasons these people have to do other things. And this authority must be exercised in ways that are at least minimally rational and moral, else people will not be able to give their convention consent to the regime.
  • If the political authority is not only minimally rational and moral but also substantially just, then it is a morally legitimate political authority. But full moral legitimacy is not necessary for the existence of political authority (so that there can be morally bad states)
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States that are just will likely receive the approval of their citizenry—although approval needn’t track justice. Giving such approval is what I call endorsement consent ( I have also called it loyalty consent). Such consent, if widespread, can make a state particularly robust, stable, and long-lasting.
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Probably no existing state in the world has ever completely eschewed attempts at mastery over some of its rebellious population, but states that we consider just are ones in which the use of techniques of mastery is rare, the convention consent of the members has generated an agency relationship between the ruler and the people, and most subjects give their endorsementconsent. Finally, modern democracies are states in which the recognition that
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political authority is created and sustained by the people is explicitly built into the structure of the state in the form of voting (for officeholders and laws), constitutional provisions for exercising control over political institutions, constitutional amendment procedures, and so forth.
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Further questions:
  • --is it plausible enough to be historically confirmable?
  • --what kind of justice must a state display, such that its authority can be considered morally legitimate on the convention model?
  • --is this model too individualistic?
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