Proceedings of the XXII World Congress of Philosophy

Volume 46, 2008

Philosophy of Social Sciences

Oliver Hidalgo
Pages 21-28

Rethinking the Concept of Democracy
From Aporias to Normativity

The conceptual history of democracy suggests that the overwhelming success of the concept is most of all due to its ability to subsume very different historical ideas and realities under the same semantics. Moreover, the historical evolution of the term is repugnant to an unequivocal definition because it contains some very significant paradoxa, aporias and contradictions. This obviously opens the concept of democracy to some further discussions about the conceivable legitimacy of Non-Western social and political systems. On the other hand, this does not mean that there is no core belief or best interpretation of democracy existing at all. The contestability of the political concept does not prevent us from drawing normative conclusions from social and historical research but rather demands the reflection of the normative content each definition of democracy includes. Hence tracing the different forms the term took on over times and conceding the preliminary character of modern liberal democracy should not be confused with the philosophical duty to identify the concept’s preparatory or incomplete versions. The conceptual history of democracy is still in progress.