Why Political Ignorance Undermines the Wisdom of the Many

Critical Review, Vol. 26, Nos. 1-2, pp. 151-169, 2014 (Symposium on Hélène Landemore’s Democratic Reason: Politics, Cognitive Intelligence, and the Rule of the Many)

George Mason Legal Studies Research Paper No. LS 16-04

20 Pages Posted: 10 Feb 2016

See all articles by Ilya Somin

Ilya Somin

George Mason University - Antonin Scalia Law School, Faculty

Date Written: February 8, 2016

Abstract

Hélène Landemore’s Democratic Reason effectively demonstrates how cognitive diversity may potentially improve the quality of democratic decisions. But in setting out the preconditions that democracy must meet in order for voters to make collectively well-informed decisions, Landemore undermines the case for voter competence more than she strengthens it. The conditions she specifies are highly unlikely to be achieved by any real-world democracy. Widespread voter ignorance and the enormous size and complexity of modern government are severe obstacles to any effort to implement Landemore’s vision. Better-informed decision making is more likely to be achieved by allowing a wider range of issues to be decided by “voting with your feet” instead of at the ballot box.

Keywords: rational ignorance, elections, rational irrationality, federalism, foot voting, democracy, voting, information, information shortcuts, miracle of aggregation, exit rights, polling, political ignorance, Hélène Landemore

JEL Classification: D71, D80, H10, H11, H41, H70, H73, H77

Suggested Citation

Somin, Ilya, Why Political Ignorance Undermines the Wisdom of the Many (February 8, 2016). Critical Review, Vol. 26, Nos. 1-2, pp. 151-169, 2014 (Symposium on Hélène Landemore’s Democratic Reason: Politics, Cognitive Intelligence, and the Rule of the Many); George Mason Legal Studies Research Paper No. LS 16-04. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2729327

Ilya Somin (Contact Author)

George Mason University - Antonin Scalia Law School, Faculty ( email )

3301 Fairfax Drive
Arlington, VA 22201
United States
703-993-8069 (Phone)
703-993-8124 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://sls.gmu.edu/ilya-somin/

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