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Markets, Morals, and the Law$
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Jules L. Coleman

Print publication date: 2002

Print ISBN-13: 9780199253609

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199253609.001.0001

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Democracy and social choice

Democracy and social choice

(p.290) 12. Democracy and social choice
Markets, Morals, and the Law

Jules L. Coleman

Oxford University Press

The modern theory of social choice contains a number of attempts to develop a defence of particular voting or collective decision procedures by appeal to axioms aimed at characterising one or another aspect of procedural fairness. This chapter examines democracy and social choice based on the work of William Riker, who has argued that social choice theory undermines the coherence of populist democratic theory and makes plausible only a very weak form of Madisonian liberalism. In Riker's view, voting is legitimate and desirable only because it enables us to remove officials, thereby constraining their ability arbitrarily to constrain our liberty over time. Riker claims not only that attempts to justify decision rules on procedural or axiomatic grounds fail, but also that proceduralism is itself an inadequate basis for evaluating collective decision-making institutions.

Keywords:   democracy, social choice theory, William Riker, proceduralism, voting, collective decision-making, liberalism, populism

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