Res Publica

, Volume 24, Issue 1, pp 53–71 | Cite as

Does the Demographic Objection to Epistocracy Succeed?

  • Jason Brennan


In most, if not all, forms of epistocracy, we can expect (at least in the near future) that the more advantaged demographic groups would have higher rates of representation than less advantaged groups. The Demographic Objection to Epistocracy holds that this means epistocracy is unjust. One version of the Demographic Objection holds that the unequal representation is inherently unfair. I show that this argument fails, as proceduralist concern for fairness does not get us to universal equal suffrage at all. A second version holds that by giving some kinds of people more power than others, epistocracy will tend to help the advantaged and harm the already disadvantaged. In contrast, I argue that certain forms of epistocracy escape this objection altogether. For the others, though, this version of the objection relies on questionable empirical assumptions. In the end, neither version of the Demographic Objection succeeds. The Demographic Objection to epistocracy is much weaker than it seems.


Epistocracy Democracy Race Socio-economic status Rational ignorance Representation 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Robert J. and Elizabeth Flanagan Family Chair, McDonough School of BusinessGeorgetown UniversityWashingtonUSA

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