Dictionary of Arguments


Philosophical and Scientific Issues in Dispute
 
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Disputed term/author/ism Author
Entry
Reference
Minimalist Liberalism Riker Gaus I 150
Minimalist Liberalism/democray/Riker/Dryzek: Riker's (1982)(1) attempted social-choice-theoretic defence of minimalism is that though voting is meaningless, periodic elections at least provide an
opportunity for the removal of tyrannical, incompetent, or corrupt leadership.
VsRiker: but Riker's defence fails because his own analysis shows that there is no will of the voters independent of the mechanism that is supposed to measure it - and this has to include the will to dismiss tyrants or incompetents (Coleman and Ferejohn, 1986(2): 22). >Minimalist liberalism/Dryzek, >Minimalist liberalism/Przeworski,

1. Riker, William H. (1982) Liberalism against Populism: A Confrontation between the Theory of Democracy and the Theory of Social Choice. San Francisco: Freeman.
2. Coleman, Jules and John Ferejohn (1986) 'Democracy and social choice'. Ethics, 97: 6—25.


Dryzek, John S. 2004. „Democratic Political Theory“. In: Gaus, Gerald F. & Kukathas, Chandran 2004. Handbook of Political Theory. SAGE Publications

PolRiker I
William H. Riker
Liberalism Against Populism: A Confrontation Between the Theory of Democracy and the Theory of Social Choice Long Grove, IL 1988


Gaus I
Gerald F. Gaus
Chandran Kukathas
Handbook of Political Theory London 2004
Political Elections Riker Surowiecki I 334
Political Elections/Riker/Surowiecki: Riker thesis: Voters only wanted to reaffirm their participation in the political system instead of trying to influence the outcome of an election. (1) SurowieckiVsRiker: it is easier: people choose because they feel they have to vote. Riker's data also indicated that the "sense of duty" was the most important indicator of ...
Surowiecki I 335
... whether or not someone's going to the polls. In addition, people still want to exert an influence - albeit a minor one.

1. Brian Barry, Sociologists, Economists, and Democracy (University of Chicago Press, Chicago 1978).

PolRiker I
William H. Riker
Liberalism Against Populism: A Confrontation Between the Theory of Democracy and the Theory of Social Choice Long Grove, IL 1988


Surowi I
James Surowiecki
Die Weisheit der Vielen: Warum Gruppen klüger sind als Einzelne und wie wir das kollektive Wissen für unser wirtschaftliches, soziales und politisches Handeln nutzen können München 2005
Social Choice Theory Dryzek Gaus I 146
Social choice theory/Dryzek: Social choice theory has developed for half a century alongside a rational choice account of politics, though the two enterprises are actually logically distinct (...). At a time of democratic advance in the real world, their main thrust, with a few exceptions, has been in exactly the opposite direction. >Deliberative Democracy/Dryzek. The public choice field that they constitute is home to many demonstrations of the arbitrariness, instability, perversity, and inefficiency of democratic politics. Beyond Riker's exposé of the vacuum at the heart of democracy, (>Democracy/Riker) public choice theorists have argued that:
- In political systems of any size, voting is irrational.
- Majority rule entails the Pareto-suboptimal exploitation of minorities.
- Self-interested elected representatives at best create programmes that benefit their own constituents at the expense of the public interest, at worst deliberately design programmes badly
such that their own intercession is required to deliver benefits.
- Public spending levels are mostly a consequence of self-interested bureaucrats maximizing budgets. Bureaucrats can conspire with special interest groups and their supportive
politicians to divert public resources for their own benefit.
- More generally, 'distributional coalitions' such as labour unions and employers secure laws and
policies to protect their own privileges at the expense of economic efficiency.
Gaus I 147
- Democratic politics is intrinsically irresponsible because all actors seek benefits for themselves while imposing costs upon others; the result is a negative-sum game where total costs outweigh
total benefits. >Democracy/Social choice theory.
Russell Hardin conclude[s] that public choice analyses have 'largely helped to expose flaws - grievous, foundational flaws - in democratic thought and practice' (1993(1): 170).
The claims of rational choice as explanatory theory have been severely dented within political science (Green and Shapiro, 1994)(2).
Gerry MackieVsSocial Chice theory/MackieVsRiker: Social choice theory in its Rochester-style anti-democratic manifestation has been destroyed by Mackie (2003)(3). Gerry Mackie shows that every real-world example of a voting cycle (A beats B beats C beats A) adduced by William Riker or his followers to illustrate the potential for arbitrariness, instability, and manipulation in collective choice is actually inconsistent with the historical evidence.


1. Hardin, Russell (1993) 'Public choice versus democracy'. In David Copp, Jean Hampton and John E. Roemer, eds, The Idea of Democracy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
2. Green, Donald P. and Ian Shapiro (1994) Pathologies of Rational Choice Theory: A Critique of Applications in Political Science. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.
3. Mackie, Gerry (2003) Democracy Defended. Cambridge: Cambridge Umversity Press.

Dryzek, John S. 2004. „Democratic Political Theory“. In: Gaus, Gerald F. & Kukathas, Chandran 2004. Handbook of Political Theory. SAGE Publications


Gaus I
Gerald F. Gaus
Chandran Kukathas
Handbook of Political Theory London 2004