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The Strategic Constitution
     

The Strategic Constitution

by Robert D. Cooter
 

ISBN-10: 0691096201

ISBN-13: 9780691096209

Pub. Date: 03/18/2002

Publisher: Princeton University Press

Making, amending, and interpreting constitutions is a political game that can yield widespread suffering or secure a nation's liberty and prosperity. Given these high stakes, Robert Cooter argues that constitutional theory should trouble itself less with literary analysis and arguments over founders' intentions and focus much more on the real-world consequences of

Overview

Making, amending, and interpreting constitutions is a political game that can yield widespread suffering or secure a nation's liberty and prosperity. Given these high stakes, Robert Cooter argues that constitutional theory should trouble itself less with literary analysis and arguments over founders' intentions and focus much more on the real-world consequences of various constitutional provisions and choices. Pooling the best available theories from economics and political science, particularly those developed from game theory, Cooter's economic analysis of constitutions fundamentally recasts a field of growing interest and dramatic international importance.

By uncovering the constitutional incentives that influence citizens, politicians, administrators, and judges, Cooter exposes fault lines in alternative forms of democracy: unitary versus federal states, deep administration versus many elections, parliamentary versus presidential systems, unicameral versus bicameral legislatures, common versus civil law, and liberty versus equality rights. Cooter applies an efficiency test to these alternatives, asking how far they satisfy the preferences of citizens for laws and public goods.

To answer Cooter contrasts two types of democracy, which he defines as competitive government. The center of the political spectrum defeats the extremes in "median democracy," whereas representatives of all the citizens bargain over laws and public goods in "bargain democracy." Bargaining can realize all the gains from political trades, or bargaining can collapse into an unstable contest of redistribution. States plagued by instability and contests over redistribution should move towards median democracy by increasing transaction costs and reducing the power of the extremes. Specifically, promoting median versus bargain democracy involves promoting winner-take-all elections versus proportional representation, two parties versus multiple parties, referenda versus representative democracy, and special governments versus comprehensive governments.

This innovative theory will have ramifications felt across national and disciplinary borders, and will be debated by a large audience, including the growing pool of economists interested in how law and politics shape economic policy, political scientists using game theory or specializing in constitutional law, and academic lawyers. The approach will also garner attention from students of political science, law, and economics, as well as policy makers working in and with new democracies where constitutions are being written and refined.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780691096209
Publisher:
Princeton University Press
Publication date:
03/18/2002
Pages:
440
Product dimensions:
6.10(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.10(d)

Table of Contents

DETAILED CONTENTS ix
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS xv
LIST OF TABLES xvii
PREFACE AND ACKNOWLEDGMENTS xix
CHAPTER 1. Taking Consequences Seriously: Introduction 1
PART I: PROCESSES OF GOVERNMENT: VOTING, BARGAINING, ADMINISTERING 15
CHAPTER 2. Voting 17
CHAPTER 3. Bargaimng 51
CHAPTER 4. Administering 79
PART II: THE OPTIMAL NUMBER OF GOVERNMENTS 101
CHAPTER 5. Intergovernmental Relations
CHAPTER 6. Government Competition 127
CHAPTER 7. Ministries and Agencies
PART III: OPTIMAL DIVISION OF POWERS
CHAPTER 8. Specialization 173
CHAPTER 9. Separation of Powers 211
PART IV: OPTIMAL RIGHTS 241
CHAPTER 10. The Value of Rights 243
CHAPTER 11. Philosophies of Rights: Liberty and Redistribution 261
CHAPTER 12. Property Rights 279
CHAPTER 13. Free Speech 309
CHAPTER 14. Civil Rights 333
CHAPTER 15. Summary and Conclusion 359
BIBLIOGRAPHY 381
GENERAL INDEX 399
INDEX OF NAMES 409

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