Parution : 04/2024
Editeur : Princeton University Press
ISBN : 978-0-6912-4279-8
Site de l'éditeur

Active and Passive Citizens

A Defense of Majoritarian Democracy

Richard Tuck

Présentation de l’éditeur

The idea that democratic governance rests on active self-rule by citizens plays surprisingly little part in current theories of democracy, which instead stress the importance of representation by elected, appointed, or randomly selected bodies such as legislatures, courts, and juries. This would have astonished eighteenth-century theorists of democracy, who viewed universal suffrage and majoritarian voting as the sole criteria for democratic politics. Active and Passive Citizens defends the view of these earlier thinkers, asserting that individual agency is the very essence of democracy.

In this provocative and lucidly argued book, Richard Tuck draws on the distinction made by the Abbé Sieyès, a leading political theorist of the French Revolution, between “active” citizens (the electorate) and “passive” ones (those who are represented by the institutions of the state). Tuck traces our current representative view of democracy to Sieyès and contrasts him with Rousseau, a theorist of active self-rule by the people. Tuck argues that modern theories of democracy have effectively turned us into passive citizens and calls for a renewal of a majoritarian democracy that realizes the full potential of active citizenship.

Based on the prestigious Tanner Lectures delivered at Princeton University’s Center for Human Values, Active and Passive Citizens is edited and introduced by Stephen Macedo and includes commentary by political theorists Simone Chambers, Joshua Cohen, John Ferejohn, and Melissa Schwartzberg.

Contributions by Melissa Schwartzberg, John Ferejohn, Joshua Cohen, Simone Chambers

Richard Tuck is the Frank G. Thomson Professor of Government at Harvard University. His many books include The Sleeping Sovereign: The Invention of Modern Democracy; Hobbes: A Very Short Introduction; and Natural Rights Theories: Their Origin and Development.

The University Center for Human Values Series , 208 pages.  $29.95