Behavioral Political Economy and Democratic Theory : Fortifying Democracy for the Digital Age book cover
1st Edition

Behavioral Political Economy and Democratic Theory
Fortifying Democracy for the Digital Age

ISBN 9781032229737
Published June 9, 2022 by Routledge
194 Pages 3 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

Drawing on current debates at the frontiers of economics, psychology, and political philosophy, this book explores the challenges that arise for liberal democracies from a confrontation between modern technologies and the bounds of human rationality.

With the ongoing transition of democracy’s underlying information economy into the digital space, threats of disinformation and runaway political polarization have been gaining prominence. Employing the economic approach informed by behavioral sciences’ findings, the book’s chief concern is how these challenges can be addressed while preserving a commitment to democratic values and maximizing the epistemic benefits of democratic decision-making. The book has two key strands: it provides a systematic argument for building a behaviorally informed theory of democracy; and it examines how scientific knowledge on quirks and bounds of human rationality can inform the design of resilient democratic institutions. Drawing these together, the book explores the centrality of the rationality assumption in the methodological debates surrounding behavioral sciences as exemplified by the dispute between neoclassical and behavioral economics; the role of (ir)rationality in democratic social choice; behaviorally informed paternalism as a response to the challenge of irrationality; and non-paternalistic avenues to increase the resilience of the democratic institutions toward political irrationality.

This book is invaluable reading for anyone interested in behavioral economics and sciences, political philosophy, and the future of democracy.

Table of Contents




List of Figures and Tables


Overview of the Book’s Structure

The Paradigmatic Struggle in the Theory of Human Behavior

Economic Approach to Human Behavior

An Empire of Rational Choice

Behavioral Paradigm Shift

Towards a New Theory of Human Behavior

Predictive Success and "Realism"

Neoclassical Predictive Success

Behavioral Economics’ Promise


Democracy and Rationality

Choice: Individual and Collective

The Problem of Social Choice

The Problem of Rational Ignorance and the Wisdom of Crowds

Condorcet’s Jury Theorem

Miracle of Aggregation and Diversity Trumps Ability Theorem

Behavioral Political Economy of Democracy

A Democratic Equilibrium


The Republic of Misinformation

The Victim Narrative

A Question of Agency

Victims and Opportunists

Democracy contra Disinformation


The Conceit of Behaviorally Informed Paternalism

(Ir)rationality, Sovereignty, and Welfare

In Our Best Interest

Searching for True Preferences

Democratic Preference Laundering


Fortifying Democracy for the Digital Age

The Landscape of Democratic Reform

One Step at a Time: Marginal Reform



Democracy Remodeled: Radical Reform

Quadratic Voting

Open Democracy

An Anti-Psychological State


The Road Ahead

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Petr Špecián, Charles University and Prague University of Economics and Business, Czech Republic.