🦋 Science of Democracy and the Owl of Minerva

A Sisyphean task

First, democracy’s words are not all equally genuine. ‘Democracy’ can be conjured opportunistically, even parasitically. Many a dictatorship falsely claims its allegiance. Unless we take precautions, some of the supposed butterflies in Gagnon’s collection will be vampire moths in disguise.

The owl of Minerva

I surmise that much depends on the purpose the science of democracy is supposed to serve. In which specific sense should it ‘talk to the historical moment’?

Normativity unleashed

I concur with Maija Setälä that democracy itself is a normative concept. But perhaps, of late, we have overextended democratic theory in the normative direction. Instead of patiently and humbly observing what is, many theorists may have put audacious speculations on what should be too high on a pedestal.

Relieve the sense of urgency

The study of butterflies is not obsessed with reforming and reengineering them to attain a greater degree of proper ‘butterfly-ness’. It is aware that directing their evolution is not necessarily practicable or desirable.



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The Science of Democracy

The Science of Democracy

Republished essays, in chronological order, from The Loop’s short essay series on the “science of democracy”