See also and the volume edited by Holler Schwartz sees an almost perfect identity between public choice ideas and those of Madison. Chappell and Keech attribute to the authors of the Federalist views more consistent with those of Elster , p. This opens up the possibility.
Views similar to those of Cain and Jones and Chappell and Keech have been expressed even more assertively by one noted political theorist, a defender of Madison, who finds the public choice approach of limited value in understanding how representative institutions can be expected to function. But what can be expected is not the worst or even the lowest common demoninator: it is a modicum of virtue in the people and outstanding virtue in a few, both of these cooperating with, and under the direction of, an insistence on liberty that can be found in every human being and cultivated in a free people.
Federalist Democratic Republic vs. Pure Democracy - Teaching American History
My own views are far closer to those of Cain and Jones and Chappell and Keech than to those of Schwartz. The Constitution is avowedly an experiment as we are told on the first page of the Federalist; see also Ranney, , The authors of the Federalist rely heavily on the lessons of history to understand the possibility and limits of institutional reforms; they lack the priorist dogmatism of many economists and political scientists who work in the public choice tradition.
Keechs chapter makes a similar point. Cain and W. This is one reason the Constitutional Convention was a remarkable event. The Founding Fathers set out deliberately to design the form of government that would be most likely to bring about the long-range goals that they envisaged for the Republic. What is most unusual about Madison, in contrast to the other delegates, is the degree to which he thought about the principles behind the institutions he preferred. Not only did he practice the art of what nowadays is called institutional design, but he developed, as well, the outlines of a theory of institutional design.
At present, although it happens that the new institutionalism in political science has focused most heavily on Congress and on economic regulation, there is no reason that rational-choice, incentive-based approaches could be not also used to analyze and design electoral reforms in a Madisonian spirit.
As we shall see, there are 12 Bruce E. But even more significantly, there are crucial differences. Above all, it is important to remember that Madison did not think that a representative democracy could succeed in an environment of unbridled self-interest. In this connection, what are the Madisonian issues in contemporary American electoral politics? Hence, he believed, as well, in the possibility of an applied science of political design, and he had a well-developed version of such a science, one which underlay his detailed recommendations for the new constitution. Choices always have to be made under conditions of imperfect and incomplete information.
In a word, the ambiguities of language inevitably obscure the meaning of written constitutions, no matter how carefully they may be crafted. In the third place, according to Madison, the practice of institutional design is necessarily imperfect because institutional designers are themselves imperfect. Madison was keenly aware of human fallibility. At various points in his writings, he alludes to the prevalent discrepancy between theory and practice: over and over Madison compares theory and practice, to the disadvantage of the former.
Practicality and real-life problem-solving, rather than symmetry, elegance, and deductive simplicity, were for him the only appropriate criteria for evaluating theories. And the best historical examples, at least those which chiefly influenced him, were drawn from the experience of classical Greece, especially the problems that excessive factionalism caused the Greek city-states.
But inductive generalizations from historical experience, far from being universally valid rules, are no more than tentative working hypotheses that must be updated and modified after they are tested. Since perfection is a Utopian dream, reform of faulty institutions should not be postponed in the vain hope that complete solution of political problems will be found. Rely on induction from past experience to develop working hypotheses about institutional proposals.
Observe how institutions are actually operating, and aim to improve them incrementally. Also, like Burke and contemporary limited-rationality, incrementalist theorists, Madison preferred cautious experiments with new institutions to attempts at wholesale renovation. Madison on Human Nature Like contemporary theorists, Madison believed that any designed representative system had to assume that self-interested motives often prevailed over other-regarding ones.
What were these qualities? A capacity to care for others was certainly one. Madison acknowledged that emotional bonds often exacerbated political conflicts, but he also believed that passions could be constructive forces if ruled by reason. Consider patriotism. Thus, as a young student in Williamsburg, he was insistent in letters home to his father that he be sent gifts for those who had done him favors; he wanted, as it were, to bring the exchange of gifts into equilibrium. He was not alone, he believed, in liking moderation and the mean, and in his program of constitution design he took this motive into consideration, both as a good-something that political institutions should be designed to cultivate-and also as a psychological factor on which the framers could to some extent count.
If people always acted moderately, there would be little reason to worry about the dangers of tyranny. However, Madison thought that it was possible to design institutions that encouraged moderation, good sense, and compromise. He certainly recognized that individuals and groups are capable of irrational and immoderate behavior, but he believed that, in a statistical sense though of course he would not have put it this way , people are more likely to be sensible.
For instance, he recognized that the most important check on tyranny in a representative democracy is the power of citizens to vote officials in and out of office. If citizens are incapable of making sensible decisions, then a government run on democratic principles will be vulnerable to instability. We will now summarize our comparison of Madisonian and contemporary rational choice approaches by using a scheme we have developed elsewhere Cain and Jones, and now reproduce in Table 1.
In this framework, it will be seen, theories can differ both in their assumptions about human nature and in the goals they aim at achieving by their proposals. We will first compare Madison with contemporary theorists in terms of five important assumptions about human nature. Malleability of human nature. Madison believed that human nature is neither completely malleable nor completely intractable.
His strongly marked Aristotelianism disposed him not only to believe that people ought to avoid extremes in their conduct a moral judgment , but also to believe that human nature itself is a mean between extremes a factual judgment. Contemporary incentive-based approaches, as one might expect, show few signs, if any, of implicit Aristotelianism, reflecting instead the influence of advances in the 18 Bruce E. Human Nature Presuppositions Set Presuppositions Structural presuppositions Conditions of human knowledge and preference Range of the Continuum Malleability of human nature Intractable Malleable Laws governing human nature Secular Transcendental Self-interestedness of preferences Self-regarding Other-regarding Attitudes toward risk Risk-averse Risk-acceptant Capacity to know real interests Incapable Capable natural sciences during the last two centuries.
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Thus, they tend to take human nature as given and do not assume that institutions can or should try to alter the ratio of self-regarding to other-regarding behavior. Laws governing h u m a n nature. Like contemporary political scientists, Madison did not regard the laws governing human behavior as having a transcendental origin.
Self-interestedness of preferences. While Madison acknowledged that self-regarding motives are stronger and more prevalent than other-regarding motives-and thus, his views had much in common with contemporary rational-incentive approaches- he also believed that other-regarding motives play a role in successful societies. By comparison, the role of other-regarding behavior is often overlooked completely in contemporary incentive approaches, although as Schwartz correctly points out in chapter 2, this is not inherent in a rational choice approach.
Attitudes toward risk. Madison believed that people are typically risk-averse in their political orientation. This explains, he thought, why habit is such an important determinant of human behavior-so much so, indeed, that it sometimes inhibits necessary adaptations to new circumstances. Dispositions Set Dispositions What is represented How to represent Range of the Continuum Time perspective Short Long Scope Parochial Common Degree of cooperation Independence Coordinated Consistency over time Changing action Consistency Reliability of promises Adaptability Reliability critical interests are at stake, but they tend to assume that self-interest is a sufficiently powerful incentive to overcome habit when an agent believes he or she can gain thereby.
Capacity to know real interests. On this dimension, contemporary rational-incentive approaches are divided, some assuming shortsightedness and others imputing considerable rational sophistication to political actors. What does a theorist wish to accomplish by proposing one particular institutional form rather than another? One frequent concern of many theorists is which of many diverse interests in a policy should be represented.
Madison sought a system that Bruce E. Jones reflected a balance between short- and long-range policymaking perspectives. But at the same time, he felt that they should resist temporary public whims in favor of long-term interests. Scope of representation. Similarly, Madison wanted a compromise between faithful representation of the many different concerns of the various regions and localities and representation of the common concerns of the nation as a whole. The other sorts of goals that political theorists frequently discuss concern how representatives should act, for example, the desired degree of independence and adaptability.
For specifying how goals can vary, two other dimensions are relevant. Degree of cooperation between representatives. Madison recognized that representatives would form factions with one another and that any idea of totally independent legislators liberal formalism was unrealistic. Characteristically, he favored the mean between these extremes. He feared stable divisions of political conflict and saw enormous benefits in fluid, diverse coalitions. At the same time, his observations of history indicated that republics more frequently succumbed to the former than to the latter.
Consistency and reliability of representatives. Madison was very much inclined toward compromise and adaptability. He understood that a society that made too many changes undermined its own legitimacy, but he was equally fearful of people who were inflexibly wedded to a particular viewpoint. The challenge for Madison was to design institutions that encouraged mean values when the natural tendencies in politics pulled societies toward the extremes.
The mean is a compromise that denies large numbers of people their ideal points. We will discuss three problems about which Madison worried and which are still of concern-indeed of increased concern-today. The research of Mayhew, Fenno, Fiorina, and others has convincingly shown that the electoral connection has become an obsession for many members of Congress, and that many aspects of congressional behavior can be traced to electoral motivations Mayhew, Fenno, ; Fiorina, Indeed, had Madison been aware of the future role that reelection fears would play in American political life, it is likely that he, too, would have been concerned, since he was instinctively suspicious of extreme and imbalanced behavior of any sort.
Indeed, his arguments for bicameralism and for an indirectly elected Senate clearly indicated that he wanted to strike a balance between the likely ephemeral perspective of the House and the more deliberative judgment of the Senate. Madison thought that because the Senators would be appointed by the state legislatures for six-year terms, the Senate could check any intemperate decision by the lower house and offset the inexperience caused by the high turnover that he expected to result from frequent direct elections.
Clearly, the underlying assumption is that, at least in the situation described, legislators will be at least partly influenced by the self-interested motive of reelection. A legislator exclusively motivated by other-regarding interests , what the legislator thought was the best policy for the country would disregard the incentives of the electoral system, and Madison knew this did not happen. Electoral arrangements mattered to him precisely because he saw that different rules provide different incentives to actors with self-regarding motives. Just as Madison worried about the proper length of office terms, it is also a much discussed contemporary question.
Two-year electoral cycles, some argue, are not consistent with, and still less conducive to, long-range planning. He believed that public whims, however ephemeral, should be represented, but that they should also be balanced by other perspectives in the government. If the time horizons of modern governments are too short, as many contemporary critics claim, it is possible that Madison would have held that the abandonment of an indirectly elected Senate and the growing tendency to select presidential candidates by directly elected primaries, rather than the parochial nature of the House, are responsible for the failure.
Madison did not want all representatives to have the same viewpoints. Rather, he wanted to balance various contending viewpoints. On the one hand, it would be improper to pass over silently such a fundamental right as that of voting; on the other hand, it was important to respect the different customs of the various states.
Hence, Madison concludes, the Convention was right to adopt the compromise that the qualificationsto vote in federal House elections would be the same as those specified in the state constitutions. This is a characteristically Madisonian solution. Pegging the federal standard to that of the existing state constitutions avoided controversy among the various views at the Convention of who was and was not qualified to vote, and it was a neat compromise between allowing the states the freedom to conduct elections as they saw fit and putting federal limits on suffrage qualifications.
Here again, we see how compromise, moderation, and adaptability affect every aspect of the Madisonian scheme. Implicit in the position of the framers of the Constitution was the notion that it was legitimate to exclude some individuals in the electorate, but not others-the only question for them being who was to be included and who excluded.
Age, property rights, sex, and race were some of the most common qualifications applied by the states in the determination of voting rights. Madison himself gives no hint of which qualifications he thought most important, this presumably being a matter which he held should be determined by local circumstances and tastes.
Jones Once the decision had been made to exclude some people from voting, the next question that had to be faced was whether all people or only some and if only some, which should be counted in the apportionment of representatives. Madison believed that all people, including those who were ineligible to vote, should be counted when allocating shares to the states.
This proposal was highly controversial because, if it were adopted, slaves would be counted, to the advantage of the southern states, which would thereby gain representation in the national legislature. Today, the notion that representation be apportioned by population rather than by the electorate is once again controversial. Because the number of House seats allocated to a state depends on the most recent census figures, and because these figures include noncitizens and age-ineligible groups, this method of apportionment has significant political consequences, especially in the southwestern states with large noncitizen populations.
These states obviously benefit from an allocation of seats by a population-based formula, whereas many midwestern and eastern states would have greater representation if registered voters, eligible voters, or even citizens were used instead. Apportionment by population also differentially affects the political power of various ethnic groups in the United States. For instance, the Latinos, with young populations and numerous noncitizens, get more representation under the current, population-based rule than groups like the Irish- or Japanese-Americans, with a higher proportion of native-born and older members Cain and Kiewiet, Population-based apportionment even has partisan consequences.
Since the Republican party tends to draw from a more upscale electorate, Republican areas usually have a higher ratio of voters to population than do Democratic areas. In California, for instance, it is not uncommon for Republican seats to have two or more times the number of voters as Democratic seats. Republicans would benefit greatly if they could persuade the courts to allow apportionment on some other basis than population.
There was no way, of course, that Madison could have foreseen all of this, but it is useful, in thinking about the problem in its current form, to understand the logic behind his view that all people, including slaves, should be counted in the apportionment process. A slave was property in the sense that he or she was compelled to work for another, could be bought and sold, and was restrained in his or her liberty. Though slavery has long since been abolished and the issue in the form that agitated the delegates at the Convention and led to so much debate in the discussions that followed is moot, the question of rights remains all too alive and well.
For instance, does a person who enters the United States illegally forfeit some basic human rights, for instance, the constitutional rights of free speech and association? What other basic services health care, schooling, fire, and police is this person entitled to? And, most important from the perspective of this chapter, does this person have a right to representation?
A consequence of the compromise on slavery is that the U. Supreme Court currently holds that, because the right to representation is a fundamental one connected to the protection of life and property, all people should therefore be represented and population, not voters, should be the basis for allocating representatives to the states. For instance, while Madison gave the states total freedom to determine the voting franchise, the Court has greatly restricted the rights of the states to exclude certain classes of people electing public officials by the widespread application of the Fourteenth Amendment and the Voting Rights Act, which we will discuss shortly.
A prevalent contemporary view is that people and not property are the sole legitimate basis of representation. The opinions of the Supreme Court in Baker v. Jones gave strong weight to the doctrine of one person, one vote. Geographic, wealth, and occupational interests are secondary, and representation schemes that diminish the one person, one vote principle are potentially unconstitutional. Thus, a second house in a legislature that assigns extra seats to rural areas can be ruled illegal by the courts.
Such a position would today be viewed as elitist and extremely antiegalitarian. The evolution of law on this subject has been toward giving each vote the same weight as far as possible. In redistricting, this has been interpreted to mean achieving as near arithmetical equality in district size as possible.
In campaign finance law, it has meant limiting the amount of money that individuals contribute so that some voters do not have more influence over the system than others. Would Madison agree?
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Would he move with the times? But his views on the representation of groups, to which we next turn, would cause him to see virtue in the distribution of power unequally among individuals within the system. He believed that even if people of wealth and property did not have especially valued personal qualities, they at least had perspectives that contributed to the quality of lawmaking.
And the current doctrine that voters should be treated as formally equal, whatever their differences in attributes and endowments may be, would not, it is likely, have impressed Madison in view of the difficulty of implementing it, as well as the unfortunate side effects which follow its implementation. We will conclude this section by turning from speculation about his approach to this or that specific right in circumstances very different from any he knew, to the question of his approach to rights in general.
As we have already said, Madison took the matter of justice and equity seriously, but he was not interested in them as abstract ideals. Rather, he aimed at achieving a balance of competing claims-a balance, as it were, of dissatisfactions. The point of balance would obviously Madison's Theory of Representation 27 change across time as the competing claims changed, old claims disappearing and new claims emerging. But the balance achieved at any particular time say, , or is "just" at that time and defines-provisionally, of course-what people's rights, whether the right to vote or the right to be represented, are.
Madison, we think, would have focused on the procedures-on "due process"-by which a balance is achieved, not on getting the result which he or any one else had decided in advance was "right. As we observed earlier, he assumed that conflicts of interests are inherent in human nature, and he recognized that, as a consequence, people fall into various groups. He wanted to avoid a situation in which any one group-with one bundle, as it were, of interests-controlled the decisions of a society. Free elections and the majority principle protected the country from dictatorship, that is, the tyranny of a minority.
However, he was equally concerned about the danger that he thought was more likely in a democracy, that is, the tyranny of the majority. A central institutional issue for him was how to minimize this risk. Madison's solution characteristically relied not only on formal institutions, which could be designed, but also on the particular sociological structure of American society, which he took as a fortunate starting point for the framers of the new constitution.
The institutional component in his solution was checks and balances, so that there were multiple entry points into the government and multiple ways to offset the power that any one branch of the government might otherwise acquire over another. In this system, "the constant aim is to divide and arrange the several offices in such a manner as that each may be a check on the other" no. These institutional arrangements were reinforced by the sociological fact that the Republic contained a multiplicity of interests that could, and did, offset one another: "Whilst all authority in it will be derived from and dependent on the society, the society itself will be broken into so many parts, interests and classes of citizens that the rights of individuals, or of the minority, will be in little danger from interested combinations of the majority" no.
This line of argument was further developed by pluralist thinkers such as Dahl, who maintained that the tyranny of a minority is best prevented by fluid coalitions of interests. It is good that there are many group 28 Bruce E. Jones interests; that they be numerous is less important than that they be impermanent and shifting alliances whose components vary with the specific policy issue.
From the standpoint of representation theory, this leads to several important problems in institutional design. And how far should group identity be deliberately supported in American society? Obviously, these two questions are especially salient in race relations problems. In the the problems of civil rights and racial tensions were uppermost on the political agenda. The Vietnam war and the economic troubles of the mids temporarily displaced race relations, but the changing demographic composition of the United States and the growing concerns about immigration policy have brought racial politics to the foreground once again.
When the problem of race relations is reinterpreted in Madisonian terms, the relevant questions are: To what extent should racial or ethnic groups be acknowledged in law and policy? What implications do the various programs that are intended to help minorities the Voting Rights Act and affirmative action policies have for factionalism in America? These questions are best illustrated by exploring one example in some detail. The Voting Rights Act is an important contemporary attempt at institutional design. Initially passed in and then amended in , the Voting Rights Act has caused many states and municipalities to reexamine their electoral institutions.
For the present discussion, these details are unimportant. The crucial point is that the kind of ballot procedure, redistricting plan, or electoral arrangement that a community uses at-large election, single-member simple plurality, or multimember districts may not now have the effect of systematically denying representation to a racial or ethnic minority.
If these conditions hold, then the Voting Rights Act can be construed as an attempt to protect minorities against the tyranny of the majority when the type of electoral institutions employed by a community, combined with the prevailing voting patterns, has the effect of excluding minorities from fair and effective representation. At the same time, opponents of the Voting Rights Act often raise questions that also derive from Madisonian and pluralist interests.
If district lines are drawn by racial and ethnic criteria, will excessive factionalism be encouraged? Does the provision of bilingual ballots to Latino and Asian-American voters tend to destroy the assimilationist forces that create social unity? What about the institutional arrangements that make it possible for minority candidates to get elected by the votes of a single minority without depending on the votes of other minority groups or of the Anglo majority? Does this not undermine the pluralist ideal of fluid coalitions on specific issues-do institutional arrangements designed to assist groups have the incentive effect of strengthening group identity, and so of hardening factional divisions rather than promoting fluid coalitions?
Clearly, therefore, there are Madisonian concerns on both sides of this issue. On the one hand, a Madisonian pluralist acknowledges that factions including racial and ethnic groups are inevitable because the extreme individualism of liberal formalism is impossible, and that because the goal is to achieve an extended Republic with a large number of groups to offset one another, not a government dominated by one or just a few groups, it was necessary to form a stable government through the joint product of formal institutions and informal sociology and to recognize that what was created at the formal level could affect the informal arena, and vice versa.
Modern Madisonian thinkers cannot be oblivious to biases in the informal sociological sector. On the other hand, a Madisonian pluralist must also be concerned about any evidence that the incentive effects of minority districts harden coalitional positions or that Voting Rights Act interventions increase racial polarization. It would involve, perhaps, the introduction of institutional devices that would encourage coalitional behavior at the constituent level or a highly circumstantial application of the Voting Rights Act that avoids transforming its remedies into permanent rights.
There is no doubt that the trend among political scientists and lawyers in recent years has been in the direction of rational-choice theory and liberal formalism, that is, the assumption that voting mechanisms can be adequately accounted for from the standpoint of anonymous, formally equal individuals. The one person, one vote doctrine, which follows from this assumption, epitomizes this point of view. When we enter a caveat, as we do here, we recognize that our own Madisonian orientations are showing. But we think it worth pointing out that many minorities believe liberal formalism to have unspoken biases that favor better-educated, better-to-do, and more highly assimilated individuals.
And though we agree that liberal formalism avoids the incentive effects of giving legal recognition to groups, we also believe that such recognition is a legitimate concern. Faced with such a dilemma, which is not exceptional but typical of the kind of problem with which political science must deal, provisional moderating and circumstantial remedies-Madisonian remedies, indeed-may well be the best answer. I examine the Federalist for its original and enduring contribution to political theory.
That contribution is not, of course, the system of government it expounds, which was the work of the Federal Convention. It is not the set of problems that would be solved or avoided, according to the Federalist, by the new system, for these were mostly the problems that had occasioned the Federal Convention or had exercised the eralists.
The original and enduring contribution to political theory made by Hamilton, Jay, and especially Madison lies less in the positions they espoused than in the way they argued. No less original than the individual arguments that they underlie, these principles are more likely to endure change in time and place. Evinced more than stated, the Federalist principles of political analysis are strikingly similar to those of the contemporary choice school.
Both constitute institutionalist theories of politics. After locating the Federalist on the map of political theory, I outline its principles of political analysis, then compare them with those of the public choice school. Cartography In speaking of political theory, I cast my net widely. Political theory can be positive or normative-concerned with explanation and prediction or with evaluation and prescription. The distinction is easily exaggerated. A normative theorist who specifies the grounds of political authority has at least implicitly described a motive that people might have for adopting certain institutions and, hence, a possible explanation of their adoption; Hobbes does both at once.
A positive theorist who works out the consequences for public policy or for the character and behavior of citizens of instituting one form of government rather than another has provided possible grounds for choosing the one form in preference to the other. My net holds styles of political argument and approaches to political analysis as well as single, highly articulated systems of propositions. That distinction, too, is easily exaggerated.
Politics are the possessions of polities, each comprising people citizens or subjects who act or interact within a set of institutions a political constitution and a basic legal system. Some outcomes of action or interaction are public-policy decisions, broadly conceived; others would conventionally fall in the private sphere. Even the latter owe their character to institutions as well as individual decisions-to contract law, the criminal code, religious establishment, and whatnot. Public-policy decisions can, in turn, alter institutions as well as the opportunities and even the tastes and beliefs that give rise to individual choices.
So all three elements of politics-people or their behavior , institutions, and policy decisions-are interdependent. Yet, many theories of politics treat one element as primary, either and Public Choice saying little about the other two or grounding a more comprehensive theory in a single-element theory. To do so is not necessarily to deny interdependence. It is hard to explain or prescribe the relationships of all things to all things all at once. A theorist might emphasize a single element because of personal taste, past neglect, or a belief that more can be explained in one direction than in another.
Not every theorist has treated a single element as primary, of course. Aristotle was as eclectic and antireductionist in his politics as in his metaphysics, and continental philosophers of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries have tried to explain all three elements of politics in terms of fourth factors, such as history and technology.
Still it is interesting to compare political theories according to the elements of politics that they emphasize. A single-element theory that focuses on persons or their actions is a political psychology. It is concerned with what is fixed and what is malleable in human nature, with the determinants of political behavior, and with the virtues associated with citizenship and other political roles.
Plato was the quintessential political psychologist. Behavioralism, too, is a political psychology. Theories that emphasize policy decisions and other outcomes are concerned with moral constraints on actions such as the absence of certain biases and with the consequences of alternative chiefly, magnitude and incidence of costs and benefits-apart from the procedures and motivations that led to their adoption.
The utilitarians are outcome theorists. The Roman Lawyers and Thomas Aquinas were institutionalists. So were the medieval partisans of and sacerdotum. So, to a great extent, were the classical contractarians-Hobbes,Locke, and, in a significant part of his work, Rousseau. So, certainly, was Montesquieu. And so were the authors of The Federalist Papers. Thomas Schwartz Although concerned with policy problems-notably problems of peace and security, of trade and diplomacy, of monetary stability and the protection of property-the Federalist authors saw policy decisions chiefly as outcomes of interaction among persons within an institution.
Rather than prescribe policy, they recommended an institutional instrument for arriving at policy decisions, arguing that it combined energy enough to solve policy problems with safeguards sufficient to prevent tyranny. Although the Federalist authors were very much concerned with behavior, their political psychology, if it could be said to exist at all, was vanishingly thin and commonsensical: avarice and ambition existed alongside virtuous sentiments, people varied in their capacities and propensities, and sectional and other factional interests were likely to clash and to provide a motivation for the aggrandizement of power.
For the most part, the Federalist theory of behavior is institutional rather than psychological. It is a theory of institutionally induced behavior: institutional roles select for certain capacities and propensities and influence strategies by imposing constraints and providing opportunities. Different bases of representation and different terms of office in the two chambers of Congress would select different motivations Madison, no.
The small size of Congress compared to the and the need to secure votes would give an individual congressman the incentive to become well informed. By contrast, the role of voter is nonselective, and an individual voter has far less an incentive than a congressman to become well informed. So voters would be less likely than elected representatives to make sound policy decisions and more likely to respond to demagogic appeals Hamilton, no. True, the Federalist authors were concerned with certain untoward motivations, chiefly greed, ambition, and factionalism.
But they did not explain these motivations or say much about their incidence. The assumption that such motivations exist-that men are not angels-was used to argue for some government rather than none, for national as well as state government, and for care in matters of constitutional design. Publius and Public Choice Themes of the Federalist What distinguishes the theory of The Federalist Papers from earlier institutional theories is a combination of three themes.
Importance of institutional detail. More than the classical rians, more even than Montesquieu, the Federalist authors emphasized the fine details of institutional structure. Of course, this was because they had a specific constitution to expound. But whatever the reason, they argued that small, subtle details-the specific terms of office of representatives and senators, the Electoral College, the specific form of the executive veto, the time limit on were consequentially important.
The Federalist authors based prediction and prescription on institutional incentives. Looked at the other way around, to predict or explain the way an institution works or to evaluate its design, we must examine the incentives it creates and therewith the motivations it selects.
Stated another way, a constitution is an allocation of power to positions, a written constitution an allocation of initial endowments of power, and a durable constitution an equilibrium allocation. A written constitution will endure, therefore, only if it is an equilibrium allocation, and to predict the system established through a written constitution is to predict equilibria from initial endowments.
Public Choice The public choice school, too, is an institutional approach to political analysis, drawing on three older institutional theories. One is social choice theory, the mathematical study of voting rules and other 36 Thomas Schwartz institutions that transform individual preferences into a collective choice Arrow, ; Sen, ; Schwartz, , Another is game theory, which investigates the ways in which rules governing interactive decisions shape strategies and give rise to equilibria and Raiffa, ; Ordeshook, The third is neoclassical economics, from which the public choice school draws a style of reasoning Downs, ; Buchanan and Tullock, ; Olson, ; Tullock, ; Mueller, more than specific findings.
It, too, is about institutions, specifically market economies-or, if you prefer, the legal and political rules that make economic exchange possible. One might contend that economics is about behavior more than institutions. Producers, for example, are assumed to maximize profits. But that assumption is institutional rather than psychological. People may or may not be avaricious by nature, but those who do not act avariciously do not long survive in the role of producer: the role selects for avarice.
The public choice approach to political analysis shares the three themes of the Federalist. Much work by public choice scholars argues that political outcomes are highly sensitive to the fine details of institutional structure-that legislative decisions are highly sensitive to the precise form of agendas, that budgets chosen by majority voting are highly sensitive to prescribed points of reversion, that subtly different electoral systems can yield surprisingly different choices, that the achievement of common goals by an interest group depends critically on the exact nature of certain institutional rewards and penalties, that the stability of voting outcomes depends on the precise size that majorities are required to have and the precise number of issues they are required to decide, and so on.
Like the authors, public choice scholars either make minimal assumptions about individual behavior or analyze individual behavior as the product of institutional incentives: select for motivations. Officeholders are assumed to try to please constituents, for example, because that is a good strategy for achieving reelection, and they are assumed to seek reelection not because political ambition is part of human nature but because those who do not are not well represented among officeholders.
The role of citizen, on the other hand, affords such a small incentive to participate in politics that it is a wonder anyone bothers to vote. And, of course, public choice scholars view political outcomes as equilibria of interests in an institutional setting-as solutions to games defined by institutional rules. Sometimes equilibria of specified sorts are shown not to exist. But the goal of analysis is still to Publius and Public Choice explain political outcomes as equilibria in some sense-as possible outcomes, or members of sets of possible outcomes, to which institutional interaction predictably converges and from which deviations are punished.
Although policy figures prominently in public choice research, policies are mostly studied as creatures of interaction within institutional settings or as institutional changes that alter the incentives of actors and therewith the subsequent outcomes of institutional interaction. Public choice research is also concerned with behavior. In most cases, however, either nothing is assumed about individual motivations or they are assumed to be institutionally induced. The frequent reference in the public choice literature to self-interest, methodological individualism, and rationality may convey the opposite impression, that the public choice school assumes a particular political psychology.
More often than not, however, the term selfinterest is just poor diction: it refers to whatever interests, selfish or altruistic, the self happens to pursue. And methodological individualism is no more than the doctrine that all political and economic outcomes are ultimately the results of individual choices constrained by institutions and available resources: it denies any explanatory role to irreducible collective consciousness or to historical forces.
It is true that the classical rationality assumptions have been criticized for excessive substantive import. But the criticisms along with proposed revisions have come chiefly from within the public choice community. There are differences, of course, between Publius and public choice, some too obvious to merit much comment. Our experiences and concerns are not those of the Federalist authors, who worked for the sole and immediate goal of ratification, and we enjoy advantages in information and technical tools.
More important, their enterprise was normative, and ours is often positive. But to repeat, that difference is easily exaggerated: an argument to the effect that institution X would induce behavior Y leading to outcome Z can be put to the service of explanation and prediction as well as evaluation and prescription. If we have learned anything from public choice research, it is that apparently clear and weak assumptions, once made precise, often have surprising and anomalous deductive consequences Brams, ; Schwartz, consequences that conflict with our casual inferences, demonstrating the shortsightedness and bility of casual inference, hence the value of deductive rigor.
But for deductive rigor we need precise, mathematically tractable assumptions. The problem is that such assumptions often simplify reality and that their mathematical meaning sometimes is clearer than their substantive import. We trade good fit of assumptions to reality for good fit of inferences to assumptions. Yet this difference, too, is easily exaggerated. It is less a difference in trade-offs than a difference in awareness of the need to make a trade-off. And as contributions to a continuing scientificinquiry rather than a one-time exercise in political advocacy, deductive findings in public choice carry standing invitations to weaken or eliminate questionable assumptions and to identify inferences as mere artifacts of such assumptions.
Conclusion The authors were institutionalists not because they ignored policy and behavior but because they saw these elements of politics chiefly as the creatures of institutional structure. Their patrimony is public choice research, committed to the study of institutions, to the view that fine institutional details are important, to the explanation of political behavior in terms of institutionally induced incentives, and to the analysis of policy decisions as equilibria of contending interests within institutional settings.
Keech I n many respects, The Federalist Papers may be considered forerunners of modern social-choice theory. And social choice theory can be considered a modern reflection of Madisonian thinking. Such arguments are to be found in Riker , pp. Other observers, such as Cain and Jones chapter call attention to differences between the views of Madison and those of contemporary analytical theorists. This chapter relates the insights of The Federalist Papers to theory and insights from social-choice and other modern sources with respect to electoral institutions.
We find a fundamental compatibility between the Federalist and modern theory, but we will argue that there are important points of divergence between them. We do not find the points of divergence to be irreparably damaging to either. We will show how modern theory can help to clarify some issues in the Federalist, and we will show how modern theory would profit by attention to the views of Madison, Hamilton, and Jay.
By focusing on electoral institutions, we concentrate on a pervasive and essential aspect of the political system defined in the Federalist. Perhaps the central feature of the republican form of government defended there is that government is ultimately dependent on the 39 40 Henry W. Chappell, and William R. Keech people. What does this mean? How active and controlling a role are the people expected to play in the political system defended in the Federalist? How are they to exercise their authority? The answers to these questions as reflected in actual constitutional rules have, of course, changed over time in the direction of enhanced popular participation and more direct accountability of public officials to a broad electorate.
Yet, in the original constitutional arrangements, only one body, the House of Representatives, was to be chosen by direct popular election. The people were to have only an indirect role in the selection of other public officials. Moreover, this system has been associated with the idea of further limits on popular influence because of its features of separated powers and of checks and balances. Since elections played such a limited role in the Federalist system, and since they receive so little discussion in The Federalist Papers, it might seem that these papers are not a very promising place to look for theory about electoral institutions.
We will show that this is not so. On the other hand, modern social-choice theory has perhaps the most explicit and elaborate theory about elections in existence. But even so, the most sustained effort to relate the theory of social choice to the theory of democracy returns to the Federalist as capturing the fundamental insights of this modern theory. We will argue that there are more ways than Riker has identified in which social choice theory might profit by building on the insights of the Federalist.
As we will show, each of these elements is discussed in the Federalist, but there is something to be gained by separating them more consciously than is done there. Electoral Institutions 42 Modern social-choicetheory usually models popular preferences as given and stable, if not fixed. It models collective decision rules and procedures and describes the properties of the outcomes that result.
See Mueller, , chaps. The Federalist has a more fluid view, though the papers do reflect a concern with each of the three components of the framework discussed above. The concern with the nature of human preferences 1 is one of the best known features of The Federalist Papers, as is indicated by the attention given the discussion of passions and interests in the famous Number The observations on the institutional framework of the three branches of government 2 are also widely acknowledged.
Since the observations on the nature of the desired outcomes 3 are less developed, less original, and less well known, we discuss them first. Riker implies that Madisonian liberalism and by extension the Federalist are not concerned with defining desirable outcomes or showing how they can be achieved. The Federalist does not contain anything we might call a theory of justice or of the common good, but justice seems to be used in a way that refers to individual rights see Epstein, , pp.
Chappell, Jr. Following W. To refer to an essentially contested concept such as the common good without much more specificityis understandable in terms of the strategic setting of the Federalist. It is a way to appeal for broad support for the proposed constitution without touching on the applications that might be divisive. However, another reason may be that Hamilton, Madison, and Jay did not have much choice in the sense that there was then no clear way to define the common good any more specifically than to name it.
Modern social-choice theory makes it possible for us to do somewhat better. The will of all is the product of the aggregation of selfish individual interests. Similarly, the Pareto improvement that is possible when individuals jointly cooperate captures in very concrete terms the possibility that everyone can be better off if everyone acts in consideration of common interests. This insight from modern theory is one that may help to define the common good for the Federalist.
Such a view of the common good has the realistic feature that it is not always defined; on some issues or for some purposes, it may not exist. Some situations may involve a pure conflict of interest in which there is no common good. Or they may involve conflicts of interest for which there is no rationale for public resolution. The Federalist does not have an elaborate theory of outcomes, and our interpretation of their references to the common good unquestionably reads something into the essays that was not explicitly there originally.
Still, there are enough references in the Federalist to the desirability of outcomes so that we might call it an or tialist approach to the justification of collective decision rules, as contrasted with a or contractarian approach. See Coleman and Ferejohn, , pp. The metaphor is a criminal trial in which the desired outcome is clear: correct determination of the true guilt or innocence of the defendant. The adversary proceeding of trial by jury is designed to achieve the desired outcome, but it does not do so without fail.
By the same token, the Federalist system is designed to achieve justice and the common good, but it does not do so without fail or by definition in contrast to pure and perfect procedural justice. The procedures laid out in this system were not flawless, as was recognized by the early and repeated amendments to the Constitution. In fact, many of the amendments can be seen as a continuing series of efforts to improve the procedures in order to better achieve the goals of justice and the common good.
At the same time, there is room for adaptation to changes in the understanding of what justice and the common good mean. Most of the amendments that were not oriented to procedures were redefining rights or establishing new ones. This is in keeping with the experimental and incremental approach that Cain and Jones chapter 1 find in Madisonian thought. Madison and his colleagues might be just as impatient with efforts at mathematical precision in Henry W. Keech fying them.
We find the efforts at precision to be enlightening and clarifying. However, sympathetic as we are, we do not expect them to override individual and collective human deliberations about justice and the common good. In this respect, the style of thinking reflected in the Federalist may be informed by social choice theory but may still have the last word. The Federalist holds out no Rousseauian hope that a small-scale society might induce individuals to rise above their selfishness and consider instead the interests they have in common.
Federalist no. In distinguishing passion and interest, rather than using them as synonyms, Madison reflects a historic distinction that has since become obscured. As Albert Hirschman points out, interests in material things were once seen as a relatively harmless outlet for human energies that might otherwise be directed toward more dangerous passions for glory and power.
In emphasizing the diversity of preferences, the Federalist is only to a degree congruent with modern social-choicetheory, which typically models diverse preferences either as an ordering of preferences over a definable set of alternatives, or as a variety of ideal points in n-dimensional issue space.
Most social-choice theory sees these preferences as capable of being misrepresented for strategic purposes, but as otherwise in principle knowable, fixed, and exogenous.
Federalist 10: Democratic Republic vs. Pure Democracy
Clearly, the Federalist view of preferences is that they are less fixed and more fluid than that implied by social choice theory. Hamilton speaks of momentary passions and immediate interests. Even popular assemblies are subject to the impulses of rage, resentment, jealousy, avarice, and of other irregular and violent propensities no. These views of evanescent and fluid preferences suggest that, if they are correct, the modeling of individual preferences as fixed and totally exogenous is a quite limited and limiting assumption, though an understandable one for purposes of analyzing the effects of alternative decision rules.
There are modern conceptualizations of preferences not too far afield from social choice , which may capture the nature of the Federalist view of preferences better than fixed ideal points in a utility space. Schelling , pp. Jon Elster maps ways in which preferences may be endogenous. He identifies several ways in which this can happen, including adaptive preference formation the adjustment of wants to possibilities and preference change by framing the attractiveness of options changes when the choice situation is reframed; , Benjamin Page and Robert Shapiro in chapter 4 show that public opinion on a variety of issues is remarkably stable.
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