Pathologies of Rational Choice Theory: A Critique of Applications in Political Science
This is the first comprehensive critical evaluation of the use of rational choice explanations in political science. Writing in an accessible and nontechnical style, Donald P. Green and Ian Shapiro assess rational choice theory where it is reputed to be most successful: the study of collective action, the behavior of political parties and politicians, and such phenomena as voting cycles and Prisoner's Dilemmas. In their hard-hitting critique, Green and Shapiro demonstrate that the much-heralded achievements of rational choice theory are in fact deeply suspect and that fundamental rethinking is needed if rational choice theorists are to contribute to the understanding of politics. Green and Shapiro show that empirical tests of rational choice theories are marred by a series of methodological defects. These defects flow from the characteristic rational choice impulse to defend universal theories of politics. As a result, many tests are so poorly conducted as to be irrelevant to evaluating rational choice models. Tests that are properly conducted either tend to undermine rational choice theories or to lend support for propositions that are banal. Green and Shapiro offer numerous suggestions as to how rational choice propositions might be reformulated as parts of testable hypotheses for the study of politics. In a final chapter they anticipate and respond to a variety of rational choice counterarguments, thereby initiating a dialogue that is bound to continue for some time.
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ONE RATIONALITY IN POLITICS AND ECONOMICS
TWO THE NATURE OF RATIONAL CHOICE THEORY
THREE METHODOLOGICAL PATHOLOGIES
FOUR THE PARADOX OF VOTER TURNOUT
FIVE SOCIAL DILEMMAS AND FREERIDING
SIX LEGISLATIVE BEHAVIOR AND THE PARADOX OF VOTING
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Achen actors alternative American Political Science analysis applications argue assumptions campaign candidates Chapter coalition collective action collective beneﬁts committee conﬁguration contributions cooperative cooperative game core costs decision difﬁcult Economic election electoral competition empirical testing Enelow equilibrium evidence example experimental explain Ferejohn ﬁgure ﬁnd ﬁnding Fiorina ﬁrst ﬂoor free-rider game theory ideal points ideological individual inﬂuence institutional issue Journal of Political legislative behavior majority rule maximize McKelvey and Ordeshook methodological Nash equilibrium Olson one’s outcomes participation party payoffs platforms players Plott Political Science Political Science Review post hoc predictions preferences problem proposal propositions Public Choice Public Choice Theory question rational actor theory rational choice explanations rational choice models rational choice scholarship rational choice theory rational ignorance reﬂects Riker and Ordeshook scientiﬁc selective incentives Shepsle side-payments social dilemma solution concepts spatial models speciﬁed strategic stylized facts sufﬁcient theoretical theorists tion uncovered set utility voter turnout voting Weingast