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Knowledge in a Social World$
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Alvin I. Goldman

Print publication date: 1999

Print ISBN-13: 9780198238201

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2003

DOI: 10.1093/0198238207.001.0001

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(p.315) Ten Democracy
Knowledge in a Social World

Alvin I. Goldman (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

Epistemic theories of democracy suggest that a prime virtue of democracy is the prospect of making good decisions by utilizing the collective knowledge of the electorate. This chapter argues that good democratic decision‐making depends on voters’ possessing accurate electoral knowledge. In any given race, each voter confronts his/her “core voter question”, i.e., “which candidate, if elected, would produce the best outcomes according to my standards?” It is shown that the more voters have core knowledge (rather than core ignorance or error), the more likely it is they will elect officials whose decisional outputs will serve a majority's interests. A key question facing democracies is: What reporting practices by the press or policies vis‐à‐vis campaign advertising would maximize voters’ core knowledge?

Keywords:   core voter knowledge, campaign advertising, democracy, press, voting

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