Democracy Defended

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Cambridge University Press, Nov 27, 2003 - Business & Economics - 483 pages
Is there a public good? A prevalent view in political science is that democracy is unavoidably chaotic, arbitrary, meaningless, and impossible. Such scepticism began with Condorcet in the eighteenth century, and continued most notably with Arrow and Riker in the twentieth century. In this powerful book, Gerry Mackie confronts and subdues these long-standing doubts about democratic governance. Problems of cycling, agenda control, strategic voting, and dimensional manipulation are not sufficiently harmful, frequent, or irremediable, he argues, to be of normative concern. Mackie also examines every serious empirical illustration of cycling and instability, including Rikers famous argument that the US Civil War was due to arbitrary dimensional manipulation. Almost every empirical claim is erroneous, and none is normatively troubling, Mackie says. This spirited defence of democratic institutions should prove both provocative and influential.

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Contents

A long dark shadow over democratic politics
1
The doctrine of democratic irrationalism
23
Is democratic voting inaccurate?
44
The Arrow general possibility theorem
72
Is democracy meaningless? Arrows condition of unrestricted domain
95
Is democracy meaningless? Arrows condition of the independence of irrelevant alternatives
123
Strategic voting and agenda control
158
Multidimensional chaos
173
Unmanipulating the manipulation the election of Lincoln
258
Antebellum politics concluded
281
More of Rikers cycles debunked
310
Other cycles debunked
335
New dimensions
378
Plebiscitarianism against democracy
409
Democracy resplendent
432
Endnotes
444

Assuming irrational actors the Powell amendment
197
Assuming irrational actors the Depew amendment
217
Unmanipulating the manipulation the Wilmot Proviso
241

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About the author (2003)

Gerry Mackie is a Research Fellow at the Research School of Social Sciences, Institute of Advanced Studies, Australian National University.

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