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Social Theory and Practice

Volume 41, Issue 1, January 2015

Emanuela Ceva
Pages 26-50

Political Justification through Democratic Participation
The Case for Conscientious Objection

On a proceduralist account of democracy, collective decisions derive their justification—at least in part—from the qualities of the process through which they have been made. To fulfill its justificatory function, this process should ensure that citizens have an equal right to political participation as a respectful response to their equal status as agents capable of self-legislation. How should democratic participation be understood if it is to offer such a procedural justification for democratic decisions? I suggest that, in order to overcome the structural procedural disadvantages affecting the actual, effective opportunities that citizens who hold nonmainstream views have to exercise their right to political participation, the enhancement of such opportunities requires securing space for contestation. Against this background, I vindicate the (currently underestimated) role of conscientious objection as a form of political participation.

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