City Research Online

The case for epistocratic republicanism

Blunt, G. D. ORCID: 0000-0002-9569-090X (2020). The case for epistocratic republicanism. Politics, 40(3), pp. 363-376. doi: 10.1177/0263395719889563


In recent years, the fortunes of democracy have waned both in theory and practice. This has added impetus not only to the republican case for strengthening democratic institutions but also to new anti-democratic thought. This article examines the claim made by Jason Brennan that epistocracy, rule by the ‘knowledgeable’, is compatible with freedom from domination. It begins by briefly explaining epistocracy and republicanism. It then presents the argument for epistocratic republicanism: that democracy can be a source of domination and that freedom from domination can be secured through non-democratic political institutions. The case against epistocratic republicanism is grounded in concerns about systemic domination and the ability of epistocrats to arbitrarily set the terms of social cooperation. These two arguments are judged on the basis of which better minimises domination while respecting its value to all people. Epistocratic republicanism is found to be less reliable because of the risks of epistemic injustice that accompanies systemic domination; democracy, accompanied by other republican institutions, is better at minimising domination and respecting persons. It concludes that republicans ought to be democrats.

Publication Type: Article
Publisher Keywords: democracy, domination, epistocracy, populism, republicanism
Subjects: J Political Science > JC Political theory
Departments: School of Policy & Global Affairs > International Politics
Text - Accepted Version
Download (256kB) | Preview



Downloads per month over past year

View more statistics

Actions (login required)

Admin Login Admin Login