Democracy and Decision: The Pure Theory of Electoral Preference

Overview

Do voters in large scale democracies reliably vote for the electoral outcomes most in their own interest? Much of the literature on voting predicts that they do, but this book argues that fully rational voters will not, in fact, consistently vote for the political outcomes they prefer. The authors critique the dominant interest-based theory of voting and offer a competing theory, which they term an "expressive" theory of electoral politics. This theory is shown to be more coherent and more consistent with ...

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Overview

Do voters in large scale democracies reliably vote for the electoral outcomes most in their own interest? Much of the literature on voting predicts that they do, but this book argues that fully rational voters will not, in fact, consistently vote for the political outcomes they prefer. The authors critique the dominant interest-based theory of voting and offer a competing theory, which they term an "expressive" theory of electoral politics. This theory is shown to be more coherent and more consistent with actually observed voting behavior. In particular, the theory does a better job of explaining the propensity of democratic regimes to make war, the predominance of moral questions on democratic regimes to make war, the predominance of moral questions on democratic political agendas, and the distribution of government resources in democratic systems. This important book offers a compelling challenge to the central premises of the prevailing theories of voting behavior and should serve as the basis for fundamental reevaluation in the field.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"[This] book contains a number of fascinating discussions of political rhetoric, contract theories, political institutions, and democratic morality." Ethics

"[This] book contains a number of fascinating discussions of political rhetoric, contract theories, political institutions, and democratic morality." Ethics

"Whatever your methodological stance, if you are interested in electoral politics, this is a book worth reading. Unlike most positive political theory, sometimes seemingly intentionally written up so as to remain incomprehensible to most political scientists, Democracy and Decision is lively and well written. Because the ideas in it suggest potentially testable alternative models in so many substantive domains, it is also a great book to give to graduate students looking for thesis topics." American Political Science Review

"Few topics are more important to maintaining a liberal social order than is the democratic political process, and few recent books are likely to do more to motivate fresh thinking on this process than Democracy and Decision." Public Choice

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521330404
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 12/28/2007
  • Pages: 252
  • Product dimensions: 5.98 (w) x 8.98 (h) x 0.67 (d)

Table of Contents

1. Ethics, politics and public choice; 2. The logic of electoral choice; 3. The nature of expressive returns; 4. The analytics of decisiveness; 5. The theory of electoral outcome: implications for public choice theory; 6. From anecdote to analysis; 7. Interpreting the numbers; 8. Consensus, efficiency and contractarian justification; 9. Paternalism, self-paternalism and the state; 10. Towards a democratic morality; 11. Constitutional implications; Bibliography.

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