Utopianism and Political Irrationality
Common ideas about how democracy should work require that people be informed and rational. Yet empirical studies of political beliefs and voting behaviour show that, at least when it comes to politics, people tend to be ignorant and irrational. To what extent must we adjust our ideas about how democracy should work in order to account for these facts? Many prominent philosophers argue that the problem is people, not our ideas about democracy, and that we simply need to work harder to be informed and rational. I argue that these philosophers underestimate the problem by ignoring the social and psychological mechanisms that underly much political ignorance and irrationality.
Postdoctoral Fellow in Ethics
Centre for Ethics
University of Toronto
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