1st Edition

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

By Petr Špecián Copyright 2022
    194 Pages 3 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    194 Pages 3 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    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.




    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


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