Pub. date: 2010 | Online Pub. Date: May 06, 2010 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412958660 | Print ISBN: 9781412958653 | Online ISBN: 9781412958660| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Calhoun, John Caldwell (1782–1850)
James H. Read
In A Disquisition on Government John C. Calhoun argued that majority rule inevitably led to majority tyranny and proposed instead a consensual model of government whereby each significant interest enjoys veto rights over collective decisions. He did not believe this would produce anarchy or deadlock but held instead that it would force all groups and interests genuinely to deliberate together and legislate for the common good. Calhoun is significant first for his critique of majority rule and, second, for taking the consensus principle more seriously and exploring its presuppositions more thoroughly than any other theorist before or since. Calhoun's theory emerged from his experience representing a ...