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The Democratic Dilemma
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  • 24 b/w illus.
  • Page extent: 300 pages
  • Size: 228 x 152 mm
  • Weight: 0.405 kg

Library of Congress

  • Dewey number: 306.2
  • Dewey version: 21
  • LC Classification: JA76 .L86 1998
  • LC Subject headings:
    • Political socialization
    • Civics

Library of Congress Record


 (ISBN-13: 9780521585934 | ISBN-10: 0521585937)

Voters cannot answer simple survey questions about politics. Legislators cannot recall the details of legislation. Jurors cannot comprehend legal arguments. Observations such as these are plentiful and several generations of pundits and scholars have used these observations to claim that voters, legislators, and jurors are incompetent. Are these claims correct? Do voters, jurors, and legislators who lack political information make bad decisions? In The Democratic Dilemma, Professors Arthur Lupia and Mathew McCubbins explain how citizens make decisions about complex issues. Combining insights from economics, political science, and the cognitive sciences, they seek to develop theories and experiments about learning and choice. They use these tools to identify the requirements for reasoned choice - the choice that a citizen would make if she possessed a certain (perhaps, greater) level of knowledge. The results clarify debates about voter, juror, and legislator competence and also reveal how the design of political institutions affects citizens' abilities to govern themselves effectively.

• Theory of politics that integrates insights from political science, public opinion, economics, psychology and cognitive science • Specific about when limited information does and does not prevent reasoned choice • Employs formal models of learning and choice, lab experiments on persuasion and delegation, public opinion surveys, and case studies


List of tables and figures; Series editors' preface; Acknowledgements; 1. Knowledge and the foundation of democracy; Part I. Theory: 2. How people learn; 3. How people learn from others; 4. What people learn from others; 5. Delegation and democracy; Part II. Experiments: 6. Theory, predictions and the scientific method; 7. Laboratory experiments on information, persuasion and choice; 8. Laboratory experiments on delegation; 9. A survey on the conditions for persuasion; Part III. Implications for Institutional Design: 10. The institutions of knowledge; Afterword; Appendices; References; Author index; Subject index.


'Lupia and McCubbins competently and clearly shed light on the foundations of how citizens learn.' Political Studies

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