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New Left Review I/204, March-April 1994

Ted Honderich

Hierarchic Democracy

This is no bad time to ask two real questions again. What is the actual nature of the liberal democracies? Hence, what is to be said for them?

Some political philosophers and more political scientists decline in the end to answer these questions, because of certain conceptual and epistemological difficulties. Neither the philosophers nor the scientists, unlike such avowed political agents as politicians, must answer. They can carry on their lines of life without doing so. But you may suppose that political philosophy and to a lesser extent political science are bound up with politics, that they always take a side, indeed that political philosophers and to some extent scientists effectively are political agents, and therefore that at least political philosophy ought in honesty to come to final answers to the questions despite the difficulties. I do suppose this. The thought informs what I shall have to say of the two questions, although I do not get at all far with the second one.

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