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Full-Text Articles in Political Science

Anonymity And Democratic Citizenship, James A. Gardner May 2011

Anonymity And Democratic Citizenship, James A. Gardner

Journal Articles

Many aspects of modern democratic life are or can be performed anonymously – voting, financial contributions, petition signing, political speech and debate, communication with and lobbying of officials, and so forth. But is it desirable for citizens to perform such tasks anonymously? Anonymity frees people from social pressures associated with observation and identifiability, but does this freedom produce behavior that is democratically beneficial? What, in short, is the effect of anonymity on the behavior of democratic citizens, and how should we evaluate it?

In this paper, I attempt a first pass answer to these questions by turning to both democratic theory ...


Collective Choice, Justin Schwartz Jan 2011

Collective Choice, Justin Schwartz

Justin Schwartz

This short nontechnical article reviews the Arrow Impossibility Theorem and its implications for rational democratic decisionmaking. In the 1950s, economist Kenneth J. Arrow proved that no method for producing a unique social choice involving at least three choices and three actors could satisfy four seemingly obvious constraints that are practically constitutive of democratic decisionmaking. Any such method must violate such a constraint and risks leading to disturbingly irrational results such and Condorcet cycling. I explain the theorem in plain, nonmathematical language, and discuss the history, range, and prospects of avoiding what seems like a fundamental theoretical challenge to the possibility ...


Collective Choice, Justin Schwartz Jan 2011

Collective Choice, Justin Schwartz

Justin Schwartz

This short nontechnical article reviews the Arrow Impossibility Theorem and its implications for rational democratic decisionmaking. In the 1950s, economist Kenneth J. Arrow proved that no method for producing a unique social choice involving at least three choices and three actors could satisfy four seemingly obvious constraints that are practically constitutive of democratic decisionmaking. Any such method must violate such a constraint and risks leading to disturbingly irrational results such and Condorcet cycling. I explain the theorem in plain, nonmathematical language, and discuss the history, range, and prospects of avoiding what seems like a fundamental theoretical challenge to the possibility ...