Why the All-Affected Principle Is Groundless

In: Journal of Moral Philosophy
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  • 1 Department of Political Science, Aarhus Universitet, Aarhus, Denmark,
  • | 2 Department of Political Science, Aarhus Universitet, Aarhus, Denmark,
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The all-affected principle is a widely accepted solution to the problem of constituting the demos. Despite its popularity, a basic question in relation to the principle has not received much attention: why does the fact that an individual is affected by a certain decision ground a right to inclusion in democratic decision-making about that matter? An answer to this question must include a reason that explains why an affected individual should be included because she is affected. We identify three such reasons in the literature – to wit, interest protection, self-government and welfare – and show why they all fail. We then propose two alternative reasons, equal relations and fairness, and show why they are also deficient. Surprisingly, the all-affected principle then appears groundless, which supports withholding belief in the all-affected principle or(/and) investing future research in identifying the thus-far unidentified reason why being affected grounds a claim to inclusion.

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