To justify democracy as a form of government is to show either how its practices conform to a principle of right in political morality or how the consequences of those practices lead to a state of affairs that can be judged good in principled terms or by reference to important political values. In this chapter I consider what kind of justification may be offered for a belief in democracy as a form of government superior to other forms of government. For the purposes of this chapter, then, I shall be treating the competing conceptions of democracy identified in the previous chapter as members of the same class, contrasting the notion of democratic government, whatever specific form it takes, with that of non-democratic government. At this stage, therefore, the stress is upon what elements these varying conceptions have in common rather than the features that distinguish them.
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