2013 Abstracts Stage 2

What Is the Working Relationship Between the Concept of Consent and the Mechanism of Democracy? A Case Study on the Legitimacy of the House of Lords

Imogen Atkinson, 2013, Stage 2

This project aims to explore the concept of consent and the mechanism of democracy. With such similar theoretical credentials, it is often assumed that their practical compatibility is a naturally harmonious one. However, the fact that both ideas cover similar territory means that a zero-sum relationship between the ideas obliges particular models of consent to correspond to particular versions of democracy. A case study on the House of Lords and plans to reform the second chamber provides interesting material for discussion. The discussion observes the House of Lords’ alternative claim to democratic credentials and how the basis for consent must adopt a hypothetical character in order to accommodate this changed relationship between the state and its citizenry.

The project includes:
•a preliminary outline of the heritage of the question; political legitimacy and political obligation
•a presentation of the evolution of consent
•a case study
the House of Lords profile
the problem
the House of Lords defence
•a discussion engaging the political philosophical concepts with the case study

Locke’s understanding of consent helps to provide a paradigmatic definition of consent from which to refer to as the concept changes dynamics under different modes of democracy.
Lord Grenfell engages with Fabienne Peter, author of Stanford Encyclopedia entry “Political Legitimacy” in his defence of the political legitimacy of the House of Lords. He lays claim to a hypothetical version of consent and a democratic character which is both procedural and concerned for outcomes.
Parkinson recognises deliberative democracy as a suitable account of the House of Lords’ efforts to maintain a rational and informed approach to decision making.

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