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Social Theory and Practice

Volume 44, Issue 2, April 2018

Piero Moraro
Pages 199-216

Against Epistocracy

Jason Brennan has argued that democracy is intrinsically unjust, for it grants voting power to politically incompetent individuals, thus exposing people to an undue risk of harm. He claims democracy should be replaced by epistocracy, i.e., the rule of the knowers. In this paper, I show that his argument fails. First, Brennan mistakes voters’ competence for voters’ trustworthiness. Second, despite Brennan's claim to the contrary, an epistocracy may not reduce people’s exposure to an undue risk of harm. Third, Brennan overlooks the fact that citizens are not equally affected by ‘bad voting.’ Fourth, far from being a defence of libertarian ideals, Brennan's argument supports paternalism.

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