Democracy and Knowledge: Innovation and Learning in Classical Athens

Democracy and Knowledge: Innovation and Learning in Classical Athens

by Josiah Ober
     
 

ISBN-10: 0691146241

ISBN-13: 9780691146249

Pub. Date: 04/04/2010

Publisher: Princeton University Press

When does democracy work well, and why? Is democracy the best form of government? These questions are of supreme importance today as the United States seeks to promote its democratic values abroad. In Democracy and Knowledge, Josiah Ober looks to ancient Athens to explain how and why direct democratic government by the people produces wealth, power, and security.…  See more details below

Overview

When does democracy work well, and why? Is democracy the best form of government? These questions are of supreme importance today as the United States seeks to promote its democratic values abroad. In Democracy and Knowledge, Josiah Ober looks to ancient Athens to explain how and why direct democratic government by the people produces wealth, power, and security.

Combining history with contemporary theories of collective action and rational choice, Ober examines Athenian democracy's remarkable reign. He argues that the key to Athens's success lay in how the city-state managed and organized the aggregation and distribution of knowledge among its citizens. Ober explores the institutional contexts of democratic knowledge management, including the use of social networks, publicity, and open access, and explains why a government's attempt to dam the flow of information causes democracy to stumble.

Understanding how democracy can lead to prosperity and security is among the most pressing political challenges of modern times. Democracy and Knowledge reveals how ancient Greek politics can help us transcend the democratic dilemmas that confront the world today.

Read More

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780691146249
Publisher:
Princeton University Press
Publication date:
04/04/2010
Pages:
368
Sales rank:
1,093,077
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.20(h) x 1.10(d)

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations xi

List of Tables xii

Preface xiii

List of Abbreviations xvii

Athenian Money, Taxes, Revenues xviii

Chapter 1 Introduction: Dispersed Knowledge and Public Action 1

Theory and Practice 3

Rational Choice and Joint Action 6

Premises and Problem 12

Caveats and Method 22

The Argument and Its Contexts 28

Experts and Interests 34

Hypothesis 37

Chapter 2 Assessing Athenian Performance 39

Historical Evaluation 40

Aggregate Flourishing 43

Distribution of Coinage 48

Athens versus Syracuse and Sparta 52

Citations in Greek Literature and Other Measures 53

Athens ? 12: A Multiperiod Case Study 55

Democracy as an Explanatory Variable 70

Republics, Democracies, and Athenian Exceptionalism 75

Chapter 3 Competition, Scale, and Varieties of Knowledge 80

Competition and Its Consequences 80

Participation and Scale 84

Social, Technical, and Latent Knowledge 90

Preferences, Parties, and Costly Information 97

Hierarchy, Democracy, and Productivity 102

Knowledge Processes as Public-Action Strategies 106

Chapter 4 Aggregation: Networks, Teams, and Experts 118

Institutional Design: Incentives, Low Cost, Sorting 118

Establishing a Naval Station, 32S/4 B. C. 124

Demes and Tribes as Social Networks 134

The Council of 500: Structural Holes and Bridging Ties 142

Organizational and Individual Learning 151

Boards of Magistrates as Real Teams 156

Ostracism, Assembly, and People's Courts 160

Chapter 5 Alignment: Common Knowledge, Commitment, and Coordination 168

Alignment and Hierarchy 169

Following Leaders, Rules, and Commitments 172

Cascading and Social Equilibrium 179

A Trial for Treason, 330 B.C. 183

Common Knowledge and Publicity 190

Rational Rituals and Public Monuments 194

Architecture and Intervisibility 199

Scaling Common Knowledge 205

Chapter 6 Codification: Access, Impartiality, and Transaction Costs 211

Intention and Interpretation 211

Open Entry, Fair Procedure, and Transaction Costs 214

A Law on Silver Coinage, 375/4 B.C. 220

Silver Owls, Athenian and Imitation 226

Approval, Certification, Confiscation 231

Legal Standing and Social Status 241

Rules and Rents: Historical Survey 245

Expanding Access 249

Democracy and Social Security 254

Horizons of Fairness 258

Chapter 7 Conclusions: Government by the People 264

Knowledge in Action 264

The Democracy/Knowledge Hypothesis Revisited 268

Formality and Experimentation 270

Institutions and Ideology 272

Exceptionalism and Exemplarity 276

Appendix A Aggregate Material Flourishing 281

Appendix B Distribution of Coins in Hoards 285

Appendix C Prominence in Classical Greek Literature 287

Appendix D Impact of Constitution and Historical Experience 289

Appendix E Athenian State Capacity and Democracy, 600–250 B. C. 292

Bibliography 295

Index 333

Read More

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >