The Good Representative

The Good Representative

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In The Good Representative, Suzanne Dovi argues that democratic citizens should assess their representatives by their display of three virtues: they must be fair-minded, build critical trust, and be good gatekeepers.* This important book provides standards for evaluating the democratic credentials of representatives.* Identifies the problems with and obstacles to good democratic representation.* Argues that democratic representation, even good democratic representation, is not always desirable.* Timely and original, this book rejects the tendency to equate respect for the preferences of citizens with neutrality on the standards used in choosing their representatives.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 272 pages
  • 165 x 235 x 28mm | 640g
  • Wiley-Blackwell (an imprint of John Wiley & Sons Ltd)
  • Chicester, United Kingdom
  • English
  • Annotated
  • 1405155787
  • 9781405155786
  • 3,200,045

Back cover copy

Is President George W. Bush, by democratic standards, a good or a bad representative? Who is a better representative according to democratic standards: former Rep. Tom DeLay or Senator Hillary Clinton? Political theorists typically remain silent about the proper standards that democratic citizens should use for selecting their representatives. In The Good Representative, Suzanne Dovi argues that democratic citizens should evaluate their representatives using democratic criteria. In doing so, she provides an account of what it means to represent in a democratic fashion as well as a framework within which citizens can assess the democratic credentials of their representatives. For Dovi, good democratic representatives manifest three virtues: they must be fair-minded, build critical trust, and be good gatekeepers.

Arguing that democratic representation, even good democratic representation, is not always desirable, Dovi also prompts us to think about how democratic representation can be a tool of liberation or a tool of domination.

This timely and provocative book articulates, for the first time, a normative framework within which democratic citizens can fruitfully proceed in assessing their representatives as democratic representatives.
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Table of contents

Preface. Acknowledgments. 1. Who is a Good Representative? An Ethics of Democratic Representation. The Proper Scope of an Ethics of Democratic Representation. Three Assumptions. The Theoretical Contribution of The Good Representative. The Structure of The Good Representative. 2. Moving beyond Descriptive Representation. Democratic Representation and Descriptive Representation. Two Problems with Descriptive Representation. Justifying the Silence about Criteria. The Need for Criteria. The Need for Democratic Standards. 3. Democratic Advocacy and Good Democratic Representation. The Scope of Democratic Representation. Sources of Authority for Democratic Representatives. Holding Democratic Representatives Accountable. Existing Standards for Identifying Bad Representatives. Why Democratic Standards? The Importance of Function. The Three Virtues. Democracy and Democratic Citizens' Preferences. 4. The Virtue of Fair-Mindedness. Political Efficacy. Democratic Efficacy. Why Civic Equality? The Meaning of Civic Equality. Using the First Virtue to Evaluate Representatives. Two Problems with the First Virtue. 5. The Virtue of Critical Trust Building. Democratic Representation and Participation. Problems with Evaluating Representatives by Citizen Participation. The Virtue of Critical Trust Building. Promoting Critical Trust. Problems with the Second Virtue. 6. The Virtue of Good Gatekeeping. Developing the Right Relationships. The Scope of Mutual Relations. The Virtue of Good Gatekeeping. A Perspective of Exclusion. Problems with the Third Virtue. Conclusion. 7. Preferable Democratic Representatives: Real-World Political Virtues. Preferability and the Virtues. Preferability and System-Dependency. Are Good Descriptive Representatives Good Democratic Representatives? Choosing among the Virtues. Bad Democratic Representatives. Notes. References. Index.
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Review quote

"This book provides an excellent 'yardstick' to aid in the application of democratic theory...addresses potential problems...and discusses the realities of selecting 'good enough' representatives." (Choice)
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About Suzanne Dovi

Suzanne Dovi is an Assistant Professor of Political Science and Philosophy at the University of Arizona. Her research interests include democratic theory, representation (especially the representation of historically disadvantaged groups), feminist theory, and normative concepts such as hypocrisy, guilt, and despair. Her work has appeared in American Political Science Review, Constellations, Journal of Politics, and Polity.
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