What are the Pros and Cons of Democracy?June 28, 2021
It is possible to deduce that democracy is not a trouble-free form of government. However, democracy is the most virtuous form of government in that it allows people to correct the mistakes made in the administration (Cevizci 2005, p. 446).
In this case, we have to ask the question whether democracy is the most preferred among the existing political systems because it only provides the opportunity to correct mistakes. Thus, from a philosophical point of view, it becomes inevitable that we question the nature and value of democracy. In this part of our unit, we will discuss why and how democracy is the most preferred form of government today and discuss what can be understood from its positive and negative characteristics.
The nature of democracy and what it is, that is, the characteristics that make democracy a democracy; The value of democracy and the positive aspects that make democracy superior to other forms of government are pointed out.
We mentioned above that democracy grants individuals or citizens of a state the right to self-determination. The right to self-determination is mostly used when individuals set rules by themselves or consent to the rules, so when the society reaches a certain decision by meeting on a common ground and there is no external coercion in taking this decision, the right to determine their own destiny is also transferred to the political ground. In other words, elected governments cannot be caught in the arbitrariness and irresponsibility of not consulting the society in the process of making decisions that directly concern the society, or rather, they are expected not to.
Societies that have the right to self-determination are, or should be, composed of individuals. One of the positive features of democracy emerges within the framework of the answer to this question: It can be said that democracy is a form of government in which people have the opportunity to develop many virtues such as independence, self-confidence, criticism, adopting the culture of discussion, and observing the rights and freedoms of other individuals (Cevizci 2005, p. .446). From an ethical point of view, democracy is the only political system in which people can make decisions and put them into practice in line with their free will, and face their responsibilities in their discourse and action.
Democracy is a political system that gives people the freedom to act as independent individuals in the society, but limits the use of this freedom with the rights and freedoms granted to other individuals, and holds people responsible for their actions in the social arena.
Democracy also has a pluralistic understanding as a political system in which legal arrangements are made to ensure that individuals and communities whose beliefs, cultures, worldviews and lifestyles differ significantly from each other, to live together peacefully under a single society/state; because democracy is not fed by the idea of the superiority of a single or private person, group or class in society, but by the idea that there is equality between people in terms of rights and freedoms, and in its implementations, it was accepted by the United Nations on 10 December 1948 and announced to the whole world, and even the needs of the age. It is based on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which is constantly updated within the framework of
Democracy is the only political system that can provide the most suitable social ground for people of different religions, languages, worldviews and cultures to live together in peace.
However, along with such important virtues of democracy, it also has some disadvantages in terms of life in society, especially in terms of the rights of individuals who are in the minority. For example, when a certain minority in the society thinks differently from the majority on an important issue concerning the future of the society, it is almost impossible to put this thought into practice, because in a democracy, the decisions of the majority of the people are observed and tried to be implemented. This creates a directional perception among minorities that they are not subject to equal treatment, despite all the legal guarantees that protect minority rights. We will address this perception and its negative consequences under the title of “The Dictatorship of the Majority and the Problem of Justice in Representation” in the “What are the Problems of Democracy?” section.
Another negative aspect of democracy is that it values the opinions of all individuals in the society equally. Taking everyone’s opinion into account as equally important and valuable brings about equating ignorant/informed people with intellectuals/informed people. This sometimes makes it difficult to take correct and healthy decisions for the future of the society.
Compiled by: Sociologist Ömer YILDIRIM
Source: Atatürk University Department of Sociology Lecture Notes for Grade 1 “Introduction to Philosophy” and Grade 3 “History of Contemporary Philosophy” (Ömer YILDIRIM); Open Education Philosophy Textbook