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Title: Collective Self-Determination
Authors: Zuehl, Jake
Advisors: Beitz, Charles
Pettit, Philip
Contributors: Politics Department
Keywords: Alienation
Subjects: Philosophy
Political science
Issue Date: 2016
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: This dissertation argues that democracy is valuable in part because it gives people control over the structure of their social world—because it makes them collectively self-determining, as I call it. According to this line of thought, when democratic institutions are functioning well, they are responsive to the core values of the people subject to them, that is, they are responsive to the popular will. When democratic institutions are responsive to the people's will, that gives the people control over their state. A well-functioning state has the effective capacity to regulate the main institutions of the society in which it is embedded, so, when the people enjoy control over their state, they thereby enjoy control over the core institutions of their society. I argue that collective self-determination is best conceptualized as a form of joint popular control, and show how that conceptualization avoids an important objection sometimes made to the idea that democracy can realize a kind of autonomy or self-government. I go on to argue that sharing in joint popular control over the core institutions of one's society can be valuable. First, when the people enjoy such control, they can relate to important aspects of their institutions as extensions of their own agency, in that they can see themselves as acting through their institutions. I call this the prosthetic function of collective self-determination. The prosthetic function allows for a form of identification with one's institutions; rather than confronting us as foreign or alien, we can relate to our institutions as, effectively, extensions of ourselves. Second, collective self-determination enables our institutions to express our values and aims; I call this the expressive function. I argue that the expressive function of collective self-determination allows for a form of being at home in one's social world. The dissertation concludes with an examination of these ideas as they are found in the thought of Jean Jacques Rousseau, the most important historical source for the ideal of collective self-determination.
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog:
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Politics

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