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Social Theory and Practice

Volume 41, Issue 3, July 2015

Thomas Mulligan
Pages 458-476
DOI: 10.5840/soctheorpract201541324

On the Compatibility of Epistocracy and Public Reason

In “epistocratic” forms of government, political power is wielded by those who possess the knowledge relevant to good policymaking. Some democrats—notably, David Estlund—concede that epistocracy might produce better political outcomes than democracy but argue that epistocracy cannot be justified under public reason. These objections to epistocracy are unsound because they violate a viability constraint: they are also fatal to democracy and all other plausible political arrangements. Moreover, there is a problem with the public reason framework itself—a problem that can only be solved by providing a better definition for what makes an objection to a political arrangement a “reasonable” one.