In this morning's papers is the news that an extreme Icelandic party called the Pirate party looks set to form the next government. We Brits have had our own issues with democracy recently after the EU Referendum, as I'm sure will Americans if Donald Trump becomes President (unlikely as that is), and as have many other people in the Middle East and north Africa in the past few years.
There are lots of issues with democracy, but perhaps the main one is that predominant support means that undesirable things can come to pass if it is desired by enough people to make it democratically viable (stay tuned to the end and we'll ask one or two big philosophical questions about allowing the public to decide important things).
One thing democracy throws up is this. Suppose we have Tom, Dick and Harry and £100. A vote for Tom and Dick to have £50 each and Harry to have nothing could easily be favoured democratically on a 2 to 1 basis. Tom and Dick are happy, and Harry is not.
Now Dick is back up to £50, and Harry is now £10 up on the last proposal, which could mean a revised 2 to 1 vote, this time at the expense of Tom. As you can probably gather, this process could go on and on, as it follows the same rule: that predominant support makes situations come to pass democratically.
Should we always trust the public?
So, to finish - what's been evident is that the Brexit vote has regurgitated issues about democracy that the Greek philosophers used to debate, but which have now taken on a modern context. The following, perfectly reasonable questions now loom large:
2) When a national referendum is actioned, should democracy always be respected in terms of going with the majority opinion?
3) Under which conditions might we be able to justifiably argue to overturn a democratic decision made by the public?