Well I think that this enlightened public is neither a form of democracy nor epistocracy or technocracy. It definitely lies on the fundamentals of democracy being as there are votes, and everyone can vote. It must be said that there are several differences to a representative democracy. To know what they are it is important to know what most representative democracy consist of:
- Universal: This is a must have for a representative democracy. It means that all citizens can take part in voting, given a few exceptions like age. The main idea is that taking part in democracy is not dependent on demographics or ideology.
- Proximity: Not all representative democracies have this. This means that the votes directly influence the result. In the USA this is not the case because it has an electoral college.
- free: This is very common for representative democracies but not necessary. It means that the voter has a choice to vote or not to vote.
- Equal: This is a necessity for a representative democracy. It means that all voters have an equal amount of votes, and that every vote carries an equal importance.
- Anonymous: This is also necessary. It means that votes can be held anonymously and that it cannot be determined who voted for who.
Given these conditions for representative democracy it can be evaluated how democratic the enlightened public is.
The first condition applies, because everyone can vote and this right is not dependant on ideology or demographics.
The second condition does not apply, because the votes get analyzed before they are accepted.
The third condition does apply because voting is voluntary and not influenced by the state.
The fourth condition does not apply, because a vote from a person with better education might count more.
The fifth condition does apply.
So out of five conditions (some were optional) three apply. This shows that the enlightened public has a lot in common with democracy.
A rough definition for democracy would be:
the people have the authority to choose governing figures.
I do think this definition applies because the people do have the power. It must be said that this does not mean that this is a representative democracy.
There a varying definitions for technocracy but they all are similiar to this:
Power is given based on scientific or technical knowledge.
This also somewhat applies being as the votes are evaluated based on the voters knowledge. The main difference is that it is based on political knowledge rather than scientific or technical knowledge. Although a lot of definitions consider political knowledge scientific knowledge (or they are phrased differently).
There are also various definitions for epistocracy but they all share the idea that power is given based on philosophical knowledge. There are once again similarities between this and the enlightened public but the enlightened public does not consider philosophical knowledge (definitions for epistocracy may also consider this).
I think just giving it a label does not do the system of an enlightened public just.
Perhaps it is best to merely think of it as a blend of the multiple systems.
I think that all of this begs the question whether this system is just. Well this is a very philosophical question but I will try to give an outline of arguments pro this system.
It does not clash with a humans natural rights. John Locke one of the main philosophers of the age of enlightenment phrased the natural rights like this:
- Life: everyone is entitled to life
- Liberty: everyone is entitled to do anything they want to so long as it doesn't conflict with the first right.
- Estate: everyone is entitled to own all they create or gain through gift or trade so long as it doesn't conflict with the first two rights.
This could be a solutions for getting the votes of politically educated people without discriminating against any groups of people.
The main argument against this would be potential clashing with social contract theory (too complicated to go into depth in an answer). Social contract theory basically states that a system is only legitimate if the governed consent to it. It might happen that a majority of the population does not consent to the system.