This article critically examines neo-republican democratic theory, as articulated by Philip Pettit, with respect to its capacity to address some of the pressing challenges of our times. While the neo-republican focus on domination has great promise, it mistakenly commits to the position that democracy—the primary tool with which we fight domination—is limited to state activity. Examining this error helps us make sense of two additional problems with his theory: an overestimation of the capacity of legislative bodies to identify sufficient responses to practices of domination, and the potential conflict between avoiding state domination of the general citizenry and avoiding state domination of a part of it. Minimizing domination is simply too demanding and complex a task for us to rely on one institutional structure, no matter how well designed, to accomplish.
- republicanism; nondomination; democratic theory; statism; Philip Pettit; civil society
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