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In Democracies and its Critics, Robert Dahl defends both democratic va

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In Democracies and its Critics, Robert Dahl defends both democratic va  [#permalink]

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New post 18 Apr 2019, 07:40
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New Project RC Butler 2019 - Practice 2 RC Passages Everyday
Passage # 152, Date : 17-APR-2019
This post is a part of New Project RC Butler 2019. Click here for Details


In Democracies and its Critics, Robert Dahl defends both democratic value and pluralist democracies, or polyarchies (a rough shorthand term for Western political systems). Dahl argues convincingly that the idea of democracy rests on political equality—the equality capacity of all citizens to determine or influence collective decisions. Of course, as Dahl recognizes, if hierarchical ordering is inevitable in any structure of government, and if no society can guarantee perfect equality in the resources that may give rise to political influence, the democratic principle of political equality is incapable of full realization. So actual systems can be deemed democratic only as approximations to the ideal. It is on these grounds that Dahl defends polyarchy.

As a representative system in which elected officials both determine government policy and are accountable to a broad-based electorate, polyarchy reinforces a diffusion of power away from any single center and toward a variety of individuals, groups, and organizations. It is this centrifugal characteristic, Dahl argues, that makes polyarchy the nearest possible approximation to the democratic ideal. Polyarchy achieves this diffusion of power through party competition and the operation of pressure groups. Competing for votes, parties seek to offer different sections of the electorate what they most want; they do not ask what the majority thinks of an issue, but what policy commitments will sway the electoral decisions of particular groups. Equally, groups that have strong feelings about an issue can organize in pressure groups to influence public policy.

During the 1960s and 1970s, criticism of the theory of pluralist democracy was vigorous. Many critics pointed to a gap between the model and the reality of Western political systems. They argued that the distribution of power resources other than the vote was so uneven that the political order systematically gave added weight to those who were already richer or organizationally more powerful. So the power of some groups to exclude issues altogether from the political agenda effectively countered any diffusion of influence on decision-making.

Although such criticism became subdued during the 1980s, Dahl himself seems to support some of the earlier criticism. Although he regrets that some Western intellectuals demand more democracy from polyarchies than is possible, and is cautious about the possibility of further democratization, he nevertheless ends his book by asking what changes in structures and consciousness might make political life more democratic in present polyarchies. One answer, he suggests, is to look at the economic order of polyarchies from the point of view of the citizen as well as from that of producers and consumers. This would require a critical examination of both the distribution of those economic resources that are at the same time political resources, and the relationship between political structures and economic enterprises.
1. The characterization of polyarchies as “centrifugal” (Highlighted) emphasizes the

(A) way in which political power is decentralized in a polyarchy
(B) central role of power resources in a polyarchy
(C) kind of concentrated power that political parties generate in a polyarchy
(D) dynamic balance that exists between economic enterprises and elected officials in a polyarchy
(E) dynamic balance that exists between voters and elected officials in a polyarchy


2. In the third paragraph, the author of the passage refers to criticism of the theory of polyarchy democracy primarily in order to

(A) refute Dahl’s statement that Western intellectuals expect more democracy from polyarchies than is possible
(B) advocate the need for rethinking the basic principles on which the theory of democracy rests
(C) suggest that the structure of government within pluralist democracies should be changed
(D) point out a flaw in Dahl’s argument that the principle of political equality cannot be fully realized
(E) point out an objection to Dahl’s defense of polyarchy


3. According to the passage, the aim of a political party in a polyarchy is to do which one of the following?

(A) determine what the position of the majority of voters is on a particular issue
(B) determine what position on an issue will earn the support of particular groups of voters
(C) organize voters into pressure groups in order to influence public policy on a particular issue
(D) ensure that elected officials accurately represent the position of the party on specific issue
(E) ensure that elected officials accurately represent the position of the electorate on specific issues


4. It can be inferred from the passage that Dahl assumes which one of the following in his defense of polyarchies?

(A) Polyarchies are limited in the extent to which they can embody the idea of democracy.
(B) The structure of polyarchical governments is free of hierarchical ordering.
(C) The citizens of a polyarchy have equal access to the resources that provide political influence.
(D) Polyarchy is the best political system to foster the growth of political parties.
(E) Polyarchy is a form of government that is not influenced by the interests of economic enterprises.


5. Which one of the following is most closely analogous to pluralist democracies as they are described in relation to the democratic principle of political equality?

(A) an exact copy of an ancient artifact that is on display in a museum
(B) a performance of a musical score whose range of tonality cannot be completely captured by any actual instruments
(C) a lecture by a former astronaut to a class of young students who would like to be astronauts
(D) the commemoration of a historical event each year by a historian presenting a lecture on a topic related to the event
(E) the mold from which a number of identical castings of a sculpture are made


6. Which one of the following, if true, would most strengthen Dahl’s defense of polyarchy?

(A) The political agenda in a polyarchy is strongly influenced by how power resources other than the vote are distributed.
(B) The outcome of elections is more often determined by the financial resources candidates are able to spend during campaigns than by their stands on political issue.
(C) Public policy in a polyarchy is primarily determined by decision-makers who are not accountable to elected officials.
(D) Political parties in a polyarchy help concentrate political power in the central government.
(E) Small and diverse pressure groups are able to exert as much influence on public policy in a polyarchy as are large and powerful groups.


7. The passage can best be described as

(A) an inquiry into how present-day polyarchies can be made more democratic
(B) a commentary on the means pressure groups employ to exert influence within polyarchies
(C) a description of the relationship between polyarchies and economic enterprises
(D) a discussion of the strengths and weaknesses of polyarchy as a form of democracy
(E) an overview of the similarities between political parties and pressure groups in a polyarchy



  • Source: LSAT Official PrepTest 11 (June 1994)
  • Difficulty Level: Will update after 30+ timers attempts

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In Democracies and its Critics, Robert Dahl defends both democratic va  [#permalink]

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New post Updated on: 20 Apr 2019, 23:41
1
Question 1
The characterization of polyarchies as “centrifugal” (Highlighted) emphasizes the

(A) way in which political power is decentralized in a polyarchy
(B) central role of power resources in a polyarchy
(C) kind of concentrated power that political parties generate in a polyarchy
(D) dynamic balance that exists between economic enterprises and elected officials in a polyarchy
(E) dynamic balance that exists between voters and elected officials in a polyarchy

“centrifugal” means not concenertrated in the center or away from center . Polyarchy emphasizes on such form. "polyarchy reinforces a diffusion of power away from any single center and toward a variety of individuals, groups, and organizations" . A suits best

2. In the third paragraph, the author of the passage refers to criticism of the theory of polyarchy democracy primarily in order to

(A) refute Dahl’s statement that Western intellectuals expect more democracy from polyarchies than is possible
(B) advocate the need for rethinking the basic principles on which the theory of democracy rests
(C) suggest that the structure of government within pluralist democracies should be changed
(D) point out a flaw in Dahl’s argument that the principle of political equality cannot be fully realized
(E) point out an objection to Dahl’s defense of polyarchy
"During the 1960s and 1970s, criticism of the theory of pluralist democracy was vigorous. Many critics pointed to a gap between the model and the reality of Western political systems".
This line clearly states it was an objection to Dahl theory. Hence E



3. According to the passage, the aim of a political party in a polyarchy is to do which one of the following?

(A) determine what the position of the majority of voters is on a particular issue
(B) determine what position on an issue will earn the support of particular groups of voters
(C) organize voters into pressure groups in order to influence public policy on a particular issue
(D) ensure that elected officials accurately represent the position of the party on specific issue
(E) ensure that elected officials accurately represent the position of the electorate on specific issues

Last line in paragraph 2 clearly states "Equally, groups that have strong feelings about an issue can organize in pressure groups to influence public policy."
thus they determine how can they exert pressure . So political parties will try to earn support



4. It can be inferred from the passage that Dahl assumes which one of the following in his defense of polyarchies?

(A) Polyarchies are limited in the extent to which they can embody the idea of democracy.
(B) The structure of polyarchical governments is free of hierarchical ordering.
(C) The citizens of a polyarchy have equal access to the resources that provide political influence.
(D) Polyarchy is the best political system to foster the growth of political parties.
(E) Polyarchy is a form of government that is not influenced by the interests of economic enterprises.
He clearly states that more than expected can not be expected. thus polyarchy has its limitations. "Although he regrets that some Western intellectuals demand more democracy from polyarchies than is possible, and is cautious about the possibility of further democratization,"
So its a big assumption that polyarchy is limited in its scope.


5. Which one of the following is most closely analogous to pluralist democracies as they are described in relation to the democratic principle of political equality?

(A) an exact copy of an ancient artifact that is on display in a museum
(B) a performance of a musical score whose range of tonality cannot be completely captured by any actual instruments
(C) a lecture by a former astronaut to a class of young students who would like to be astronauts
(D) the commemoration of a historical event each year by a historian presenting a lecture on a topic related to the event
(E) the mold from which a number of identical castings of a sculpture are made
Since polyarchy can not be completed achieved only closest to idealist can be realized. Stated inn first para"So actual systems can be deemed democratic only as approximations to the ideal.". Something not complete defines it. Hence option B


6. Which one of the following, if true, would most strengthen Dahl’s defense of polyarchy?

(A) The political agenda in a polyarchy is strongly influenced by how power resources other than the vote are distributed.
(B) The outcome of elections is more often determined by the financial resources candidates are able to spend during campaigns than by their stands on political issue.
(C) Public policy in a polyarchy is primarily determined by decision-makers who are not accountable to elected officials.
(D) Political parties in a polyarchy help concentrate political power in the central government.
(E) Small and diverse pressure groups are able to exert as much influence on public policy in a polyarchy as are large and powerful groups.
IF every group is able to exert equal pressure. Polyarchy will give best results. E is the choice


7. The passage can best be described as

(A) an inquiry into how present-day polyarchies can be made more democratic
(B) a commentary on the means pressure groups employ to exert influence within polyarchies
(C) a description of the relationship between polyarchies and economic enterprises
(D) a discussion of the strengths and weaknesses of polyarchy as a form of democracy
(E) an overview of the similarities between political parties and pressure groups in a polyarchy
Paragraph one defines polyarchy. 2 and 3 paragraph defines its strengths and weaknesses. Para 4 concludes it. Thus D best suits.
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Originally posted by globaldesi on 20 Apr 2019, 12:11.
Last edited by globaldesi on 20 Apr 2019, 23:41, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: In Democracies and its Critics, Robert Dahl defends both democratic va  [#permalink]

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New post 20 Apr 2019, 23:25
4. It can be inferred from the passage that Dahl assumes which one of the following in his defense of polyarchies?

Dahl's defends polyarchy on the grounds that actual systems can be deemed democratic only as approximations to the ideal.
Why? Because an ideal democracy involves

1. No hierarchical ordering in any structure of government, and if no society can guarantee
2. Perfect equality in the resources that may give rise to political influence

But in reality hierarchical ordering is inevitable and no society can guarantee perfect equality in the resources.


(A) Polyarchies are limited in the extent to which they can embody the idea of democracy. Correct. Polyarchies are limited because of hierarchical ordering and perfect equality.
(B) The structure of polyarchical governments is free of hierarchical ordering. Ideal democratic government is free of hierarchical ordering, not polyarchial government.
(C) The citizens of a polyarchy have equal access to the resources that provide political influence.Ideal democratic government has equal access to the resources.
(D) Polyarchy is the best political system to foster the growth of political parties. Not mentioned in the passage. Out of scope.
(E) Polyarchy is a form of government that is not influenced by the interests of economic enterprises. Not mentioned in the passage. Out of scope.

5. Which one of the following is most closely analogous to pluralist democracies as they are described in relation to the democratic principle of political equality?

Pluralist democracy model: Distribution of power resources should be even.
But there is a gap between the model and the reality of Western political systems.

(A) an exact copy of an ancient artifact that is on display in a museum. Pluralist democracy reality is not an exact copy of the model.
(B) a performance of a musical score whose range of tonality cannot be completely captured by any actual instruments. I feel like the comparison is very subtle here but this option is the best of the lot. An ideal model cannot be completely captured/imitated.
(C) a lecture by a former astronaut to a class of young students who would like to be astronauts. Out of scope.
(D) the commemoration of a historical event each year by a historian presenting a lecture on a topic related to the event. Out of scope.
(E) the mold from which a number of identical castings of a sculpture are made. Pluralist democracy reality is not an exact copy of the model.
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Re: In Democracies and its Critics, Robert Dahl defends both democratic va   [#permalink] 20 Apr 2019, 23:25
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