Early advocate of sortition in government Robert Dahl has died

Robert Dahl was a prominent political scientist and an early advocate of using sortition in government. He proposed advisory allotted bodies in his 1970 book After the Revolution and made a similar proposal (“mini-populi”) in his 1989 book Democracy and Its Critics.

Democracy and Its Critics presents, among other ideas, a careful and coherent critique of the power of “guardian” bodies like the supreme court. In general, Dahl was noted for being unusually clear in his argumentation in a field whose main occupation is a struggle to explain the advantages of a government system in terms of an ideology which is in plain conflict with it. As an illustration, here is a striking passage from Dahl’s A Preface to Democratic Theory (1956):

The absence of specific meaning for terms like “majority tyranny” and “faction” coupled with the central importance of these concepts in the Madisonian style of thinking has led to a rather tortuous political theory that is explicable genetically rather than logically. Continue reading