chapter  2
18 Pages

Citizens' Knowledge, Politicians' Duplicity

ByRussell Hardin

Democracy, like justice, must not merely be done, it must be seen to be done. Hence if democracy depends on citizens' knowledge, then duplicity by officials may not be the biggest obstacle to making democracy work. There are some relatively clear examples of deceit that putatively serves the public interest. There are two ways representative government could work for complex cases such as the polio vaccination program. In advanced democracies, people usually do not need to worry very much about lack of transparency in the adoption of official policies that have the form of laws or legal regulations or even of executive orders. An obvious complication here that runs against an easy analogy with professional ethics is that our elected representatives might be governed by several possible theories of representation and, hence, different theories of agency. In a democracy it is the public who decide what the definition of agency is for their representatives.