Professor Shapiro guides the class through some practical applications of his theory of democratic justice. As applied to governing children, a sphere in which power-based hierarchy is inevitable, he circumscribes the role of the state as the fiduciary over children's basic interests and the role of parents as the fiduciaries over children's best interests. In other words, the state ensures the provision of the resources necessary for survival while the parents provide the resources to enable children to thrive as well as possible. Although some tensions will develop, such dual hierarchies enable a system of checks on these power relationships. These hierarchies are self-liquidating once the child reaches adulthood, and because of self-determination, the child can no longer be disenfranchised. Professor Shapiro also examines hierarchy in the workplace. If exit costs are high, what he calls a Dickensian nightmare, then increased regulation is justified, but if we are living in a surfer's paradise, with low exit costs and a high social wage, then the firm's pursuit of efficiency should not be impeded. How regulation is applied depends on where the society falls on this continuum. In closing, Professor Shapiro offers his remarks about the staying power and legacy of democracy.
Ian Shapiro, Democratic Justice, chapters 4-6
This course explores main answers to the question, "When do governments deserve our allegiance?" It starts with a survey of major political theories of the Enlightenment—Utilitarianism, Marxism, and the social contract tradition—through classical formulations, historical context, and contemporary debates relating to politics today. It then turns to the rejection of Enlightenment political thinking. Lastly, it deals with the nature of, and justifications for, democratic politics, and their relations to Enlightenment and Anti-Enlightenment political thinking. Practical implications of these arguments are covered through discussion of a variety of concrete problems.
This Yale College course, taught on campus twice per week for 50 minutes, was recorded for Open Yale Courses in Spring 2010.