The questions of value plurality, participation, rationality, and autonomy are discussed in relation to the debate over liberal communities and the procedural integrity and substantive accountability of politics.
In Democratic Legitimacy Frederick Barnard argues that political accountability is as important to the democratic ethic as political participation - and equally in need of reappraisal and invigoration. Unless its importance is recognised, accountability, like participation, will remain an idea that is easy to praise but difficult to incorporate into political life. Barnard demonstrates that in a democracy accountability is more than damage control and must be part of considerations in the political forum before decisions are made, not just after the fact when trying to assign blame.
Barnard argues that Western democracy, if it is to continue to exist as a legitimate political system, must maintain the integrity of its application of performative principles. Consequently, if both social and political democracy are legitimate goals, limitations designed to curb excessive political power may also be applicable in containing excessive economic power. Barnard stresses that whatever steps are taken to augment civic reciprocity, the observance and self-imposition of publicly recognized standards is vital. Democratic Legitimacy will appeal to political scientists and philosophers, as well as specialists in democratic theory.