Public Lecture: Against Democracy

Posted on March 13th, 2017 by Amy Fedeski

On 9th March, the Crick Centre held a public debate about the future of democracy with big names in politics and academia, including the former Green Party leader Natalie Bennett.

The debate at the University of Sheffield’s Diamond Building discussed whether democracy is under threat, and if it is even worth saving. Professor Jason Brennan, author of Against Democracy, introduced his book’s vital and provocative intervention.

Brennan’s book forcefully critiques democracy, claiming that it amounts to rule by the ignorant. He attacks established myths that democracy protects ‘dignity’ or that it ‘empowers’, instead arguing that our political system ought to be judged on its results. On that basis, Brennan argues that democracy falls woefully short, and we should instead embrace an ‘epistocracy’ – that is, rule by the competent.

Professor Brennan was joined by Natalie Bennett, former Green Party leader, and Professor Angie Hobbs, Associate Fellow of the Crick Centre and Professor in the Public Understanding of Philosophy.

More about our speakers:

Professor Jason Brennan

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Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

Robert J. and Elizabeth Flanagan Family Chair and Provost’s Distinguished Associate Professor of Strategy, Economics, Ethics, and Public Policy at the McDonough School of Business at Georgetown University

Jason is the author of numerous papers and books, including: Against Democracy (Princeton University Press); Markets without Limits, with Peter Jaworski (Routledge); Compulsory Voting: For and Against, with Lisa Hill (Cambridge University Press), Why Not Capitalism? (Routledge); and Libertarianism: What Everyone Needs to Know (Oxford University Press).

Panel members:

Angie Hobbs, Professor of the Public Understanding of Philosophy at the University of Sheffield


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Angie’s chief interests are in ancient philosophy and literature, ethics and political theory, and she has published widely in these areas, including Plato and the Hero (Cambridge University Press). She contributes regularly to radio and TV programmes (including 19 appearances on In Our Time with Melvyn Bragg), newspaper articles and philosophy websites; she lectures and gives talks around the world.

Natalie Bennett, Green Party candidate for the Sheffield Central seat

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Image credit: Flickr

Natalie is a former journalist, writing for the Independent, Guardian and Times newspapers. She was leader of the Green Party of England and Wales from 2012 to 2016.