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Securities against Misrule
Juries, Assemblies, Elections

  • Author: Jon Elster, Columbia University and College de France
  • Date Published: April 2013
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781107649958


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About the Authors
  • Elster proposes a normative theory of collective decision making, inspired by Jeremy Bentham but not including his utilitarian philosophy. The central proposal is that in designing democratic institutions one should reduce as much as possible the impact of self-interest, passion, prejudice and bias on the decision makers, and then let the chips fall where they may. There is no independently defined good outcome that institutions can track, nor is there any way of reliably selecting good decision makers. In addition to a long initial chapter that surveys theories of collective decision making, notably social choice theory, and a chapter expounding and discussing Bentham's views, historical chapters on the jury, constituent assemblies and electoral systems develop and illustrate the main ideas. This work draws on a welter of case studies and historical episodes, from Thucydides and Plutarch to the present. It is also grounded in psychology, behavioral economics and law.

    • Proposes a novel normative theory of collective decision-making with extensive use of historical material
    • Provides readers with a critical analysis of incentive-based institutional design
    • An argument for the relevance of Bentham's political theory (not including his utilitarianism)
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    'Well-written and engaging …' The Times Literary Supplement

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    Product details

    • Date Published: April 2013
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781107649958
    • length: 332 pages
    • dimensions: 235 x 154 x 18 mm
    • weight: 0.47kg
    • contains: 6 b/w illus.
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. The normative study of collective decision making
    2. Ignorance, secrecy, and publicity in jury decision making
    3. A dialogue with Bentham
    4. The optimal design of constituent assemblies
    5. Cross-voting: a study in failure
    6. Conclusion.

  • Instructors have used or reviewed this title for the following courses

    • Political Science: Intro. Theories
  • Author

    Jon Elster, Columbia University and College de France
    Jon Elster is the Robert K. Merton Professor of Social Science at Columbia University. He has previously held positions at the University of Paris VIII, the University of Oslo, the University of Chicago and the Collège de France. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Philosophical Society, Academia Europaea and the Norwegian Academy of Science, and a corresponding fellow of the British Academy. Elster is the author of twenty-three monographs, which have been translated into eighteen languages. Most recently, these include L'Irrationalité, Alexis de Tocqueville: The First Social Scientist, Le Désintéressement, Explaining Social Behavior, Agir contre soi, Closing the Books and Alchemies of the Mind.

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