This paper has explored the conditions under which a state might be described as truly 'ruled by the people'. We saw that the institution of majoritarian voting, even with universal suffrage, is insufficient, for this leaves open the possibility of rule by a sectarian majority faction. So we must move beyond formal institutions and consider also the informal political culture. Here I suggested two possible routes to fully-fledged democracy. The individualist route understands democracy as 'rule by (all) the people', which I argued may be realized in a deliberative-democratic society wherein citizens are receptive to being persuaded by each other as they trade arguments and opinions in the marketplace of ideas. The collectivist route, on the other hand, understands democracy as rule by 'the people' taken as a unified collective or 'public person'. Drawing on reductionist and constructivist understandings of personal identity, I suggested that this may be given a plausible, metaphysically non-extravagant reading, which merely requires a shareable and indeed widely-shared civic perspective to be driving the government. In either case, one ends up with a society that is 'ruled by the people' in a deeper and more philosophically interesting sense than could be achieved by looking at the formal institutions alone.
It could bear to be improved, so if you have time to read the whole thing, any feedback would be most welcome!