A Positive Theory of Political Behavior
Publication Year: 1999
Published by: University of Michigan Press
List of Figures
Rational choice theorists have a lot of explaining to do. Among the important patterns of behavior that have resisted a satisfactory rational choice analysis are turnout in mass democratic elections; the uncoerced provision of public goods generally; the importance of ethnic identity in political mobilization; certain varieties of altruism; retaliation and other retrospective behavior; the struggle by putatively rational leaders and citizens alike-sometimes successful...
The temptation to anthropomorphize is, fortunately, at a historic low. Rain, sunshine, lightning, and tornadoes are no longer attributed to purposeful gods and spirits lurking behind or inside these ordinary physical phenomena. Science has succeeded in removing choice and free will from nearly all the machinery of the universe. In the future, cognitive psychology, allied with...
1. Rational Choice Inside Out
This book defines rationality as the maximization of conditional expected utility (hereafter, CEU) in place ofthe more standard definition of rationality as the maximization of expected utility (hereafter, EU). My aim in this chapter is to develop and justify this substitution. In what is easily the most philosophical part of the book, this chapter grapples with the fact that CEU theory ultimately views human beings as full-scale objects of scientific analysis, whereas EU...
2. Group Identity
For purposes of exposition, chapter I largely ignored the existence of other agents in the decision maker's environment, a drastic simplification for any rational choice theory expecting to be applied within political science. This chapter remedies this deficiency by applying CEU theory to multivoter elections in which each of the individuals deciding whether and for whom to vote is...
The decisions made by CEU maximizers are greatly influenced by the way they categorize themselves and other people. If they see the world through ethnic lenses, their decisions will not likely be the ones they would reach if they looked through religious lenses. Marxists certainly recognize that workers who unite on the basis of class must in some sense ignore or transcend both of these...
4. Selves and Self-Interest
To this point, we have focused CEU theory on some of the more celebrated problems in political science such as turnout and ideology. Yet ordinary human decency, honesty, and sacrifice also seem to defy the predictions of standard rational choice theory (Frank 1988). On a grander scale, there is for example evidence that presidents do try to honor their campaign commitments, notwithstanding...
5. Political Causes
I start by imputing a couple of concessions to an otherwise skeptical reader of the preceding portion of the book. One, I imagine this reader conceding that the first chapter shows why reasonable people can disagree over the proper definition of rationality. Two, I imagine the reader conceding that chapters 2, 3, and 4 show that the CEU definition has some empirical power. There is a case for...
6. Reduced Expectations
This concluding chapter begins by stressing the coherent message underlying the variegated analysis of the preceding five chapters. My aim is part summary and part reorganization. The chapter will also extend the analysis by confronting one of the awkward complaints about rational choice theory raised by Donald Green and Ian Shapiro ( 1994), namely, that its advocates do not really...
Appendix A: Supplement to Chapter 2
Appendix B: Supplement to Chapter 3
Page Count: 248
Illustrations: 5 drawings
Publication Year: 1999
OCLC Number: 651657381
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Choice-Free Rationality