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One of the enduring problems in democratic theory is its inability to specify who should belong to the demos. In recent years, several scholars have been arguing that democratic theory should try to overcome this “boundary problem” through different kinds of global reform. I argue, however, that the boundary problem is an analytical distraction in thinking about global reform. I begin with general doubts as to whether the boundary problem can ground global reform. I then join the developing conversation on Arash Abizadeh's and Robert Goodin's boundary problem arguments. I offer new reasons for why both arguments encounter fundamental difficulties. I conclude by anticipating the concern that my argument does not take the need for global reform seriously enough.


Institute for Humanities and Social Sciences

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Journal Article

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