Democracy and Human Values Project    

Philip Pettit, Director

The Democracy and Human Values Project, established in 2005-06, has three broad aims:

  • The foundation of democracy: to develop the theory of groups so as to explain what is involved in the formation of a democratic community and people and to explore the extent to which the state and government can be organized as group-agents.
  • The role of democracy: to investigate the role that democratic government might be required to serve under such a foundational theory and, on that basis, to articulate a set of democratic expectations that can provide benchmarks for the assessment of democratic regimes.
  • The design of democracy: to bring together strands of research among political scientists, sociologists, lawyers, economists and psychologists in order to identify the institutions that can best implement such democratic expectations; and this, across different contexts -- in developed and developing countries, for example, and in international networks as well as domestically.

The Democracy & Human Values Project is directed by Professor Philip Pettit, and in collaboration with the director of the University Center for Human Values, Professor Charles Beitz, Pettit coordinates a range of activities among members of the University faculty and student body that are designed, over the lifetime of the project, to advance the three aims. The activities include the pursuit of relevant research programs, the organization of workshops and conferences on selected topics, and the sponsorship of lectures and colloquia in the area of the project.

The initial research focus of the project is on topics in the theory of groups: the nature of group formation, the possibility of group agency, the coherence of the notion of group responsibility, the notion of the demos as a group, and the extent to which states and governments should be constructed as contestable group agents.

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