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democratic theory hobbes locke rousseau and rawls

DEMOCRATIC THEORY: HOBBES, LOCKE, ROUSSEAU, AND RAWLS

The relationship between man and State - Social Contract Tradition (17th century): countered the common notion of a “highly constrained, hierarchical systems of social relations into which all humans were born and stayed throughout their entire lives.” Where the authority to rule, it was claimed, came from God.

Social contract tradition: government should be founded upon the choices and consent of the people.

slide2

Thomas Hobbes (1588- 1679): humans are greedy-need the state to protect us. We are willing to give up freedoms in order for protection, order, safety. We can see this after 9-11 and our willingness to give up certain rights.

slide3
John Locke (1632-1704):

Natural laws = rights from God.

“Life, liberty, property” - T. Jefferson plagiarizes Locke in the Declaration of Independence. Most people respect these natural laws - of course there are a few bad apples. Yes we do need a govt. but only a limited one. The only legitimate govt. action is the action the public consents to.

slide4

Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778) – the public holds preferences for government action that are reprehensible. “the general will is always right, but the judgment that guides it is not always enlightened.” What does right mean? Are public preferences legitimate, legal, moral?

Rousseau somewhat suggests that we set up institutions that people ought to have and then teach them what they ought to want. (is this elite theory?).

Democratic theory presumes that preferences should determine public policies, assuming that public opinion/preferences are generally socially acceptable.

what happens in a democracy when people act in socially unacceptable or selfish ways
What happens in a democracy when people act in socially unacceptable or selfish ways?
  • Suppression of minorities?
  • Inefficient policies?
  • Solutions?
rawls veil of ignorance
Rawls: Veil of Ignorance
  • We don’t know anything about our characteristics, man woman, child, college student, etc. and then assess the fairness of a policy.
  • Can we really be that objective. Even if we can this still assumes that we are able to assess all of the positive and negative externalities that come from the interactions in society, assess the long term benefits.
slide7

Acknowledging positive externalities: The positive externalities of public education. Even if you and your family go to private school (or don’t have kids or are self taught) you will likely benefit from public education via an educated work force which leads to a higher GDP, which leads to a higher quality of life for most, or through lower crime rates, or because you do not have to train (as much) your new employees.

evaluating democracy

Evaluating Democracy

More Broadly - we will reflect on the ways in which the American way of doing things achieves desired goals and serves us well or poorly.

We will also ask, does this policy benefit some and not others?, does this institution favor some groups over other, do some groups have more access to this bureaucracy or politician?

thomas dye policymaking from the top down

Thomas Dye: Policymaking from the Top Down

“The Discovery that in all large-scale societies the decisions at any given time are typically in the hands of a small number of people confirms a basic fact: Government is always government by the few, whether in the name of the few, the one, or the many.” Harold Lasswell

“Public policy in America, as in all nations, reflects the values, interests, and preferences of the governing elite. The assertion that public policy reflects the “demands of the people” expresses the myth rather than the reality of democracy.” Thomas Dye

slide12

Clingermayer and Feiock (2001) state simply, “first and foremost, institutions matter because they affect the behavior of policy makers.”

Similarly, institutions influence how policymakers respond to public opinion. Rational choice theorists, like Downs (1957) and Buchanan (1967), suggested early on that scholars should examine how preferences and institutions interact and affect public policy. They argued that preferences alone cannot predict policy outcomes.

slide13

Political institutions influence the policy process by limiting “the nature and scope of political actions and choices (Bickers and Williams 2001: 41)” by placing constraints on political actors (i.e., rules and norms), or by insulating political elites from public pressures.

Heclo (2000) argues that much of the written Constitution helps keep the “citizenry at arm’s length from the governing process (p. 18).”

slide14

Examples of these institutions may include election rules on who and when people can vote or rules that are placed on judges’ discretion in sentencing. Some studies assume that certain political mechanisms are designed to link citizen demands with policy actions (Downs 1957; Barrilleaux and Miller 1988),

what is a political institution
What is a political institution?
  • A Political Institution is a web of relationships lasting over time, and an established structure of power.
  • A vague term that can apply to almost anything (the institution of the family, etc.)
slide16
Examples?

Constitutional

Electoral

Administrative

Legislative

Executive

Judicial

Statutory

Cultural

Etc., etc., etc.

slide17

Institutional setting that might promote representation

Federalism

Elections every two years

State Initiatives

Judicial Elections

Term limits

institutional settings rules that might reduce representation
Institutional settings/rules that might reduce representation
  • Non-elected Bureaucracies
  • Legislative Committees
  • Life tenure for judicial officials
  • FED
  • Staggered elections
  • Term limits
  • Registration requirements
slide19

NeoInstitutionalism v. the Limits of Institutions

Much of the political science literature holds institutions as important, if not the primary, factors in politics and political behavior. But institutions are only as good as the people who made them. And even the best laid out plans have limitations. (Yugoslavia, Hiati, Lebanon, Iraq, the US Constitution)

slide20

Kenneth Arrow’s Possibility Theorem:

Arrow showed that it is impossible to produce a social choice mechanism that doesn’t violate the basic conditions of democratic choice:

Universal admissibility of individual preference orderings: All policy alternatives are on the table/agenda

Citizen’s Sovereignty: citizen preferences matter

Unanimity: Unanimous choices always win

Independence of Irrelevant Alternatives: the introduction of a third alternative doesn’t effect the preference ordering of a set of two choices.

Nondictatorship: no single group should be able to determine a social choice outcome.

slide21

A simple example of the limitation of institutions in solving collective action problems (policy disagreements)

Three Legislators: with differing preferences on whether a bridge should be built, a road or neither (status quo)

Official 1: BpRpS

Official 2: RpSpB

Official 3: SpBpR

need a two stage voting process because if we have a one stage process it ends in a three way tie
Need a two stage voting process because if we have a one stage process it ends in a three way tie
slide23
One possible outcome

Agenda 1

vote 1: B vs R: B wins

vote 2: B vs S: S wins

Remember:

Official 1: BpRpS

Official 2: RpSpB

Official 3: SpBpR

slide24
Agenda 2

vote 1: B vs S: S wins

vote 2: S vs R: R wins

Remember:

Official 1: BpRpS

Official 2: RpSpB

Official 3: SpBpR

slide25
Agenda 3

vote 1: R vs S: R wins

vote 2: R vs B: B wins

Remember:

Official 1: BpRpS

Official 2: RpSpB

Official 3: SpBpR