Pub. Date:
Macmillan Education UK
Rational Choice / Edition 2

Rational Choice / Edition 2

by Andrew Hindmoor, Brad Taylor


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Rational Choice / Edition 2

The emergence and development of rational choice theory has polarized political science - particularly in the United States, where it has come to dominate much of the subject's research agenda. Its enthusiastic advocates argue that it has revolutionized the study of politics as an academic discipline by setting it on a new scientific basis. Its opponents argue that its success marks a triumph of technical style over explanatory substance and makes a series of implausible assumptions about the reasons why people behave in particular ways, thus offering deeply flawed explanations of why particular events occur.

The central objective of this major new text is to provide a clear and accessible introduction to rational choice which assumes no prior knowledge or mathematical skills and offers a uniquely fair-minded assessment of both the strengths and limitations of the approach. Truly international in scope and its choice of examples, it provides broad-ranging coverage of key areas of political science in which rational choice has been widely used and an in-depth introduction to the main works of its key protagonists.

About the Author:
Andrew Hindmoor is Senior Lecturer in Politics, University of Queensland, Australia, having previously taught at the University of Exeter, UK

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781137427410
Publisher: Macmillan Education UK
Publication date: 08/14/2015
Series: Political Analysis
Edition description: 2nd ed. 2015
Pages: 288
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

Andrew Hindmoor is Professor of Politics at the University of Sheffield, UK.

Brad Taylor is Lecturer in Economics and Political Economy at the University of Southern Queensland, Australia.

Table of Contents

List of Boxes, Figures and Tables     x
Preface     xii
Introduction     1
The marginal revolution and the methods of economics (1870 1950)     6
The emergence of rational choice (1950-70)     7
The take-off to growth (1970-94)     9
A difficult decade (1994-2004)     14
Anthony Downs and the Spatial Theory of Party Competition     22
Setting the stage: the demands of democracy     22
The precursors of party competition     24
The median votor theorem     26
Qualifying the argument: accounting for divergence     30
there are only two parties     32
political space is one-dimensional     34
parties can move to and occupy any point in this one-dimensional space     39
parties are vote-maximizers     40
voters vote for the party closest to them in political space     41
There is perfect information     42
voters' preferences are fixed     44
Assessment     45
William Riker and the Theory of Coalitions     49
Setting the stage: choosing a voting system     49
Riker and the theory of the minimal-winning coalition     53
Policy-seeking parties     57
The portfolio-allocation model     62
The transaction costs of policy agreements     65
Assessment     73
Kenneth Arrow and Social Choice Theory     77
Setting the stage: democracy and the public will     77
The precursors of social choice theory     79
Arrow: social choice and individual values     83
Riker: liberalism against populism     86
Reining-in social choice theory     90
Assessment     100
Mancur Olson and the Logic of Collective Action     102
Olson's The Logic of Collective Action     102
Resolving collective action problems     113
Assessment     127
William Niskanen and Bureaucracy     129
Setting the stage: the growth of the state     129
The precursors of bureaucratic theory     131
The budget-maximizing bureaucrat     136
Evaluating the behavioural assumption     143
Evaluating the equilibrium argument     146
Assessment     151
Gordon Tullock, Rent-Seeking and Constitutions     155
Setting the stage: the politics of pressure     155
Rent-seeking: the welfare costs of tariffs, monopolies and theft      157
The costs of rent-seeking     163
Reforming the rent-seeking society     171
Devising and enforcing constitutions     174
Assessment     178
Rationality     181
Introduction     181
The axiomatic approach     183
The optimizing approach     190
The reach of rational choice     193
Self-interest     195
Rational Choice Explanation     200
Introduction     200
Positivism and explanation through laws     202
All other things being equal: tendency laws and the inexact (social) sciences     205
Scientific realism and the search for mechanisms     210
Interpretivism, understanding and reasons     212
Bibliography     219
Index     247

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

A very accessible introduction to rational choice theory and to the work of key scholars within this tradition. Unusually balanced and thoughtful in its approach, it highlights both the strengths and limits of rational choice not only in particular substantive areas but, with striking originality, in terms of its philosophical underpinnings.' - Jack Knight, Washington University, USA

'A very thorough and accessible introduction that will be welcomed for its careful and clear exposition of the ideas of key contributors to the field and of the developments and controversies to which their ideas have given rise.' Brian Barry, Emeritus Professor, London School of Economics and Political Science, UK and Columbia University, USA

'This book is the foundation of a good course in rational choice... [it] makes us think about how we pursue political science inquiry and, ultimately, how much we want to take from the limited science of economics and how much we still want to be able to tell a traditional good story.' - Stuart Astill, Political Studies Review

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