Democracy, I have suggested, is a form of government in which public policy depends in a systematic, if sometimes indirect, way upon public opinion. However, even accepting this definition, there are various ways in which democracy can be thought of. Indeed, looking at the literature on democracy, it is clear that it reflects this diversity with classifications, categories and typologies in abundance. We read of pluralist democracy, radical democracy, liberal democracy, socialist democracy, deliberative democracy, elitist democracy, equilibrium democracy, cosmopolitan democracy, and so on (for a good discussion in this mode, see Held, 1996). It may seem that the task of a democratic theory is to identify which of these differing conceptions of democracy has the greatest claim to justification or is most defensible in intellectual terms. Why do we find the theory of democracy discussed in this way, and how should we deal with the problems that this proliferation of categories raises?
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