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2020 ECPR Winter School in Methods & Techniques

Was Plato Right? Should the Experts Rule?

Workshop Number
Workshop Director
Cathrine Holst
Universitetet i Oslo
Workshop Co-Director
Bo Rothstein
University of Gothenburg

Democracy is haunted by significant performance problems. At the same time democratic political rule is challenged in many countries as well as in transnational polities such as the EU by an accelerating expertification of political processes and policy-making. These real world developments are paralleled by the recent “epistemic turn” in political theory, where familiar normative justifications of democracy, stressing the inherent value of political equality and democratic inclusion, are challenged by accounts focusing on decision quality and good outcomes, and the arguably indispensable role of expertise in the setting up of “truth-tracking” political procedures. This raises questions of whether expert rule, “rule of the knowers” or “epistocracy”, to borrow political philosopher David Estlund’s term, would be able to outperform democracy as we know it, producing policies that stand a better chance of being “good” or “true” and improving on human well-being. Thus the question Plato raised – why not a rule by the most knowledgeable instead of a rule by the many – is again a central issue in political theory and empirical research. The purpose of this workshop is to take up the challenge from epistocracy in its recent shapes, and bring together research on democracy’s performance and the relationship between democracy, quality of government and standard measures of human well-being, with research on the role of expertise in policy-making, expertise institutionalization and expert performance, and normative political theory contributions on the challenge from epistocracy and the legitimate role of expertise and expert arrangements in modern societies.

Paper List

Title Details
Between Experts and Interests. On the Legitimacy of Public Committees View Paper Details
Deliberation and Legitimate Decision-Making: The Use of Depoliticised Management in Rationing Healthcare View Paper Details
Democracy and Deprivation: Does Media Freedom Make a Difference? View Paper Details
Democracy, Quality of Government, and Human Development: Complementary or Substitutable Effects? View Paper Details
EBP as Depoliticized Governance Strategy: The Case of European Drug Policy View Paper Details
How Does Knowledge Travel in EU Policy-Making Processes? The Case of TTIP View Paper Details
Knowledge in Search of Power: The Craftsmanship of Policy Professionals View Paper Details
Means-Based and Ends-Based Epistocracy View Paper Details
Organising Expertise in the 'Iron Cage': Bureaucratic Specialisation and the Quality of Government in Western Europe View Paper Details
Political and Interest Group Ties in European Agencies View Paper Details
Politically Appointed Ministerial Advisors Versus Merit Based Recruited Impartial Civil Servants View Paper Details
Pragmatist Epistemic Democracy: Evading Epistemological Skepticism View Paper Details
Reconciling Epistemic and Democratic Legitimacy. A Plea for the Hand-picked Selection of Participants in Policy Formulation View Paper Details
Reference-Based Policy Production? The Growing Use of Citations in Norwegian Commission Reports View Paper Details
The Legitimation Crises of Expert Agencies and Commissions View Paper Details
The Negative and the Positive Side of Democratic Institutional Design View Paper Details
The Representative Turn and Political Roles of Experts View Paper Details
Truth-Sensitive and Democratic? The Case of the European Commission Expert Groups View Paper Details
Whither Sovereignty? Norway in Strasbourg 1949-1950 View Paper Details
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