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Epistemic Democracy and the Quality of Government

Journal article
Authors Bo Rothstein
Published in Perspectives on European Politics and Society
Volume 20
Issue 1
Pages 16-31
ISSN 1570-5854
Publication year 2019
Published at Quality of Government Institute (QoG)
Department of Political Science
Pages 16-31
Language en
Keywords Corruption, Meritocracy
Subject categories Political Science


Epistemic democracy implies that in order for democratic decisions to be legitimate, it is no enough that they are taken according to established democratic procedures. In addition, epistemic democracy demands that two additional demands should be fulfilled, namely that the decisions produced by a democratic process also are ‘fair’ and ‘true’. The fairness demand is in this article connected to the principle of human rights while the ‘true’ demand related to the propensity of representative democracy to produce outcomes that increases human well-being. Empirical research shows that representative democracy without a high quality of the institutions responsible for implementing public policies do not deliver increased human well-being. A special problem is that representative democracy has not turned out to be a safe cure against endemic corruption. The ‘quality of government’ factor thus implies control of corruption and also the rule of law and competence in the public administration. It is argued that meritocracy in the recruitment and promotion to positions in the public administration can serve to increase both the level of ‘fairness’ and the level of ‘truth’ in democracies.

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