In many ways, Dahl’s defense of democracy can be framed as a long response to Plato. Rather than give up on “rule by the people” in the wake of Socrates’s execution, Dahl suggests that democracy is worth defending and preserving.
At the same time, however, Dahl notes a number of practical limitations to democracy in the modern nation state – size, the complications and limits of majority rule, the role/need for representation, etc. Indeed, his notion of polyarchy seems relatively limited as a democracy in the end (that citizens ought to have some say, at some points in the process, in ways that balance out various interests in society). And all of this seems an awful lot like handing most of the business of ruling over to the very experts (elected officials, heads of bureaucratic agencies, courts and other political elites) that Plato might have preferred.
So who is closer to being right in the end: Dahl or Plato? Is democracy a good thing to be realized to its utmost? Or, is it a dangerous way to govern, best severely constrained by knowledgeable experts and well-learned leaders?
You will be graded both on content and format. You need to demonstrate thoughtful and careful engagement with our course material and at least one outside source. Specify the pages of the texts you referred to for your arguments within your text and provide a bibliography below your text. Use APA citation style.
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