The Values of Democratic Proceduralism


Gerry Mackie

University of California, San Diego


Abstract –  A standard justification of democratic voting is that it is a fair procedure, providing for the equal treatment of voters. Democratic theorist David Estlund challenges the adequacy of that justification:  flipping a coin between alternatives is also a fair procedure, but no one would propose substituting random draw for voting.  Estlund provides several arguments that fair proceduralism is an untenable view, and I counter those arguments.  He concludes that what distinguishes democratic voting from random choice is its better epistemic value in approximating a standard of justice independent of the procedure.  I reply that a less controversial distinction between voting and coin flip is that voting tends to select what is thought best by the most people.