Philosophy: Democracy

Ref: C2341111

'Undemocratic' is used to criticise decisions or how decisions have been made, but we don't often get beyond the criticism. This course is an opportunity to consider the different meanings of democracy - majority votes; meeting the needs and interests of the population; ensuring a positive outcome for the common good; holding those in power to account - and reasons which make democratic decisions legitimate or not. The course uses theories of democracy from Philosophy and Political Science and is not intended as a political platform. It will cover 1. the claims about legitimacy underlying judgments that a decision is 'undemocratic'; 2. the relationship between majority voting and legitimacy; 3.'stakeholder' democracy and interests; 4. meaningful and less meaningful participation; 5. genuine and 'manufactured' consensus; 6. the role of expertise in democracies.

Course aim

An opportunity to consider different meanings of democracy, what makes democratic decisions legitimate or not, and what kind of democratic participation is more or less likely to lead to positive outcomes.

Do I need any particular skills or experience?

  • No skills or experience needed
  • This course is suitable for beginners and improvers

By the end of the course I should be able to:

  • make explicit at least two claims about legitimacy underlying judgments that a decision is 'undemocratic'
  • name at least one advantage and one disadvantage of decisions by majority voting
  • name at least one advantage and one disadvantage of 'stakeholder' democracy
  • identify at least one example each of meaningful and less meaningful participation
  • identify issues arising from the possibility of 'manufactured' consensus and/or the role of expertise in democracies

How will I be taught?

  • The WEA tutor will use a range of different teaching and learning methods and encourage you and the group to be actively involved in your learning

What kind of feedback can I expect?

  • A range of informal activities will be used by the tutor to see what you are learning which may include quizzes, question and answer, small projects and discussion
  • You will be encouraged to share your work with the group and discuss your learning
  • You will be encouraged to consider other students work and give your opinions and suggestions

What else do I need to know?

  • Nothing else is needed
  • It would be helpful if you had access to the internet (Mobile phone, tablet or computer at home or through a library etc.)

Pre-course work, reading and information sources

  • No pre reading or pre course work is required

What can I do next?

  • Progress to another WEA course
  • Progress to a course with another provider
  • Become involved with the WEA in a range of voluntary work and other activities including campaigning as a WEA member
  • suggested further reading : This article on democracy from the online Stanford Encyclopaedia of Philosophy : https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/democracy/

Download full course information sheet

Philosophy: Democracy

Enrolment Conditions

As a registered charity, and to meet our funders’ requirements, we need to check a few things with you before you book. Please could we ask that you check the list below to ensure you meet our basic criteria:

  • You are paying the standard fee (with a credit or debit card) or you are on any of the qualifying benefits
  • You have a valid email address so that you can receive confirmation of your booking
  • You have been resident in the UK, EU or EEA for the last 3 years
  • You are aged 19 years or older on 1st September 2018
  • You have read and accept our standard terms and conditions

Not sure or have further questions? Contact courseenquiries@wea.org.uk

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