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)
20 Pages Posted: 10 Feb 2016
Date Written: February 8, 2016
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: Suggested Citation