- Hardcover: 272 pages
- Publisher: Cambridge University Press (July 24, 2006)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0521862698
- ISBN-13: 978-0521862691
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 2 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,934,554 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Rational Choice and Democratic Deliberation: A Theory of Discourse Failure
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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.
Top customer reviews
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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. Clearly the authors are visionary thinkers who are prepared to challenge naive models of... oh wait.. what's this? Hmm.. the first example they use to illustrate their point seems to be based on the authors' "Econ-101"-quality understanding on the relationship between economic protectionism and economic success. Oh - and here's another one based on a similarly naive view of minimum wage laws. and on and on it goes. For a pair so quick and sharp to identify the fundamental (and "rationally occurring") -- MARKET FAILURES -- that exist in democratic deliberative processes, they are tragically naive in being able to identify the same -- MARKET FAILURES -- that exist in economic markets for what are ultimately analogous reasons. As a result, the authors examples' constantly hint a sort of naive free market orthodoxy that they have that would make the president of a college young republicans' club blush. In fact, all of the examples in this book take on a right-wing sort of slant - for example, that of the poor right wing professor who faces a decision on hiding or obscuring his political views when before a (left wing) academic hiring panel. Even in cases where the example is taken as a conditional - for example [paraphrased] "if X believes that imposition of the death penalty leads to less intentional killing through deterrence" ... "x is still acting rationally." Particularly egregious are the authors' characterization of the actions of environmentalists and advocates for the poor - their contempt for them is barely disguised, even if the examples are nominally phrased in terms of conditional, apocryphal terms. Maybe, just maybe, environmentalists don't go after people simply who drive cars (even though cars create substantial pollution) because they realize that such an approach is political suicide and not simply because they're showboaty, naive, and foolish.
In fairness, chapter 5 on 'symbolic behavior' does provide much needed nuance, though it is incompletely argued and one gets the sense that it was written through gritted teeth at the behest of an incredulous editor.
I do recommend this book for its excellent theory. I wish it were a little better organized in terms of structure, but that's a minor quibble. I do wish the examples were better - this is not just because of my personal political distaste for some of the authors views (you know, the ones where they pompously pontificate on the naive economic views of the general public while promoting views that are in some sense equally naive), but also because I think some of the theory is underdeveloped because the authors are too quick to assign simplistic explanations to observed irrational behavior. Still, it's a valuable work.
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.