Sample Material of UPSC Mains Philosophy (Optional) Study Kit
Topic: Socio Political Philosophy (Classical Theory)
It is the most prominent theory of democracy.
1) It supports popular sovereignty ultimate power vested in a people. It also
means rulers are responsible to the rule.
2) It is based on the existence of various political and civil right like-
- Right to vote
- Right to contenst elections
- Right to form political groups
- Freedom of speech and expression
- Freedom of conscious
3) Classical Theory works on the principle of majority rule. It means
whichever party holds majority has a right to rule.
4) It is based on constitutionalism and constitutionalism means limited
government (or in other words instead of discretionary rule, rule on the basis
(Limited state – No welfare function only regulatory function.
(Limited government – State may be welfare state but it should not be
4) It supports free, fair and independent judiciary instead of committed
judiciary (In socialist state attaining one broader goal socialization of means
of product hence, judiciary committed to favour of state, but liberal democracy
like, India it is independent hence impartial to state & individual).
5) Classical liberal democracy is against the concentration of power in one
person or institution. It supports separation of power which means executive,
legislative and judiciary powers should be vested in different institutions and
6) Philosophically, the idea of liberal democracy is based on dignity of
individual. In practice, it is reflected in idea of one person – one vote.
Therefore, it believes in the fundamental equality of individual and no
individual can be treated as a means.
(Meritocracy – wisdom base – Aristotte individual existence considered more
1) According to many critics, democracy is the rule of incompetence. In
democracy number is important, merit or quality is secondary. It is generally
seen that, in a every society most of the persons are of average competence,
very few are genius, since democracy is dominated by number, therefore democracy
becomes rule of average people instead of most talented persons.
In the words of H.G. Wells
“Democracy is the rule by most ignorant and most intellectuals” In democracy,
Head is counted but whether the head contains wisdom or not is not seen.
2) Democracy supports the debate, discussion persuasion as the method of
decision making because the underlying idea of democracy is respect for views of
all individuals but due to this there is a delay in decision making and it is
James Bryce has compared – “democracy as committee, in which 7 persons
perform same amount in 7 days (of work) which can be perform by one person in
3) As an idea, democracy is full of paradoxes like negating dignity of
individual as your voice is meaningful only if you are part of majority
4) Democracy, philosophically believes in the rule by people but in practice
it becomes majority rule therefore interest of minority may be compromised.
5) Most of the modern democracy has become a victim of vote-bank politics,
since the idea of democracy believes in popular sovereignty which is implemented
in the form of majority rule therefore national interest is compromised for vote
6) Devid Held has ciritised contemporary liberal democracies, because they
are based on dichotomy between formal rights and actual rights.
Formal rights are those rights which constitution gives to the citizen.
Actual rights are those which are actually exercised by citizens. According
to Held, in contemporary liberal democracies, gap between formal and actual
right is widening.
1) Democracy ensures responsibility : In democracy, rulers are responsible to
the rule therefore rulers can not become dictators and democracy in this sense,
offers safeguards against absolution.
2) Democracy ensures various rights to the citizens. In other forms of
government, rights are at the mercy of ruler but, since democracy is based on
the principle of constitutionalism therefore, people have maximum liberty in
3) Democracy has great educative value. In the words of Gettel, “Democracy is
like a school which imparts the values of citizenship.
This clearly means democracy is based on active citizens instead of passive
In democracy decisions are taken on the basis of debate, discussion,
persuasion therefore people become aware of the policies of government without
any specific efforts because through media, press – people come to know various
aspects of policies.
4) Democracy is consider to be best system for plural society like most of
the third world countries. In such society, parliament becomes a forum where,
various sections of the society are represented, conflicting views of every /
various sections are accommodated during the process of policy making. In this
way, democracy is responsible for or catelyses process of national intergration
(mental – not by force) psychological.
5) According to Mill, democracy increases patriotism. Mill believes that in
democracy citizens have a sense of belongingness with the government. In other
words, ruled have sense of belongingness of rulers.
6) Democracy also offers safeguard against revolutions. In democracy, voice
of people cannot be / are not neglected by ruler because people elect them
therefore there is no need of revolution.
7) According to E. Burke, democracy promotes world peace, in democracy rulers
are controlled by the rule therefore they can not go for unnecessary wars.
Democracy has a serious loopholes but still today it is most favoured system
in the world. The great support for democracy rest on the fact that merits out
weighs to the demerits.
According to Churchill, “Democracy is a bad forum of government but other are
The significant aspect of democracy is that many of its loopholes may be
e.g. Through universal education, the element of quality or merit may be
incorporated in democracy also. So comparatively better system (When not
specified democracy, it means classical democracy).
Problems of Democracy
3) Economical disparity
7) Gender disparity / discrimination
9) Growing intolerance in the society
10) Widening gap between actual and formal rights.
11) Criminalisation of politics
12) Religious fundamentalism
Conditions for Successful working of democracy
1) Universal education
2) Faith of people in the principles of democracy
3) National and moral character of the people.
4) Vigilant public opinion which is reflected in the form of ‘Free Press’
5) Fair and independent judiciary
6) Economical equality.
7) Presence of civil and political liberty
8) In society, majority should be judicious and minority should be tolerant.
9) Dynamic leadership
10) Efficient Civil service (steel frame – Not Bamboo frame)
11) Rule of Law
12) Competitive party system
13) Gender equality
According to David Held
Success of democracy depends upon double democratization, which means –
Democratization, has 2 stages
i) At the level of the civil society.
ii) At the level of state
i) In a civil society, gender or racial inequality, concentration of national
wealth in fewer hands etc. should be checked.
ii) At the level of state – Increasing power of bureaucratic must be curtail &
administration should be responsible and responsive, gap between formal and
actual rights should be minimized.