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Rational Choice and Democratic Deliberation: A Theory of Discourse Failure Hardcover – July 24, 2006

ISBN-13: 978-0521862691 ISBN-10: 0521862698

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 270 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press (July 24, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521862698
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521862691
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.9 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,169,280 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Book Description

In public political deliberation, people will err and lie in accordance with definite patterns. Such discourse failure results from behavior that is instrumentally and epistemically rational. This 2006 book proposes to reduce the scope of majoritarian politics and enlarge markets, offering a comprehensive critique of theories of deliberative democracy.

About the Author

Guido Pincione is professor of Law and Professor of Philosophy at the Universidad Torcuato Di Tella, Buenos Aires. He has been a visiting scholar at the Center for Ethics and Public Affairs, Murphy Institute, Tulane University and at the Social Philosophy and Policy Center, Bowling Green State University. Fernando R. Teson is a leading scholar in the field of international law and ethics. He is the author of Humanitarian Intervention and A Philosophy of International Law.

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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By David Bear on August 8, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Teson and Pincione have developed a very powerful theory. Their work here has wide-ranging implications for our political process. If accepted, their theory requires that we take a step back from the common modern push from those on both the left and right towards indefinite devolution of political power to direct democracy.

Teson and Pincione's theory builds on a number of intellectual works, most notably theories of the rational voter and the value of deliberative democracy. Their theory adds very important nuances to the works it builds on. One of their most interesting twists is their idea that the common citizen is not to be blamed for their rational ignorance of complicated public policy questions, it is rational - and arguably even virtuous - for common individuals to devote time developing what is directly valuable to their lives (i.e. their family, their profession).

This book is very well written. It is a serious academic work, so it is very thorough in examining the supporting and opposing literature. For readers who are not very familiar with the topics of deliberative democracy and/or rational voters this book serves as a very good and objective literature review.

Highly recommended,

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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Swift on March 18, 2010
Format: Hardcover
So, here's the basic idea of democratic discourse failure as discussed by the authors and those whose works they build upon: it's naive to think that ordinary citizens, through processes of deliberation, will arrive at optimal or near optimal solutions to social issues. Why? Part of it is because they are stupid (err, subject to cognitive biases) and lazy (err, rationally can not allocate all their time to know the darkest details of every issue) and part of it is because they are routinely fed lines of nonsense by biased/rent-seeking parties. One needs to look no further than the current status of socialized healthcare "debate" in the USA to see clear evidence of this. I saw a photo on the internet the other day of an anti-nationalized health care 'tea partier' holding up a picket sign that read 'Medicare Users say NO to Obama's Socialized Medicine!' (in case you don't know - what the protester was missing is that the Medicare program is equivalently "socialist"). In short, there are excellent reasons why decisions on flying the 747 are best left to the qualified pilot in front and not left to a democratic process among the passengers. While this basic idea in the realm of policy, politics, and governance is hardly new, this book does an excellent job of discussing and extending the theory of it. There's much good to be gotten on it to the point where the work stands out in an era where criticizing democracy (in theory and/or in practice, in its various guises) is in some intellectual fashion among serious people, and not just French pseudo-intellectuals.

This work is ultimately a healthy re-evaluation of democracy itself by exposing weaknesses in the popular discourse process that is often said to be one of its key underpinnings. Brilliant, great.
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