KAHNEMAN'S FAILED REVOLUTION AGAINST ECONOMIC ORTHODOXY
Zeljka Buturovic and Slavisa Tasic
ABSTRACT: The work of Daniel Kahneman and his colleagues has established that people do not always think and act “rationally.” However, this amounts to saying that Kahneman and his collaborators interpret people's behavior in experimental settings to be inconsistent with the narrow understanding of rationality deployed by orthodox neoclassical economists. Whether this means that people make poor decisions in the real world, however, has not been demonstrated, a fact that calls into doubt the significance of the list of heuristics and biases generated by behavioral economists. Dual-process (System 1/System 2) theory was meant to give theoretical coherence to this list, but its empirical foundation, too, retains the premises of “rational” choice as an ideal.
GETTING DEMOCRATIC PRIORITIES STRAIGHT: PRAGMATISM, DIVERSITY, AND THE ROLE OF BELIEFS
ABSTRACT: Jack Knight and James Johnson argue in The Priority of Democracy that democracy should be theorized and justified pragmatically: Democratic deliberations should be given a central coordinating role in society not because they realize any particular abstract ideal, but because they would elicit the information needed to solve real-world problems. However, Knight and Johnson rely on a naïve economic understanding of knowledge that assumes implausibly that individuals know what they need to know and need only aggregate their separate beliefs. It is precisely because we may not know what we need to know that we need to continually test our ideas. Contra Knight and Johnson, moreover, we ought to accept that our ability to interpret social experiments properly is questionable. A pragmatic approach to social inquiry, therefore, ought to investigate what beliefs political actors actually bring to collective decisions rather than how theoretically perfect beliefs ought to be elicited and aggregated.
USING POST-STRUCTURALISM TO EXPLORE THE FULL IMPACT OF IDEAS ON POLITICS
Oscar L. Larsson
ABSTRACT: Colin Hay's constructivist institutionalism and Vivien A. Schmidt's discursive institutionalism are two recent attempts to theorize ideas as potential explanations of institutional change. This new attention to the causal role of ideas is welcome, but Hay and Schmidt do not take into consideration the constitutive and structural aspects of ideas. Instead they reduce ideas to properties of individual conscious minds, scanting the respects in which ideas are intersubjectively baked into the practices shared by individuals. This aspect of ideas—arguably, the institutional side of ideas—is developed in post-structuralist thought, which therefore demands a place in ideational research.
WHY THE FACTS MATTER TO PUBLIC JUSTIFICATION
ABSTRACT: It is often held that disagreement over non-normative facts is less significant to the project of public justification than disagreement over relevant moral norms. But this dismissal of non-normative factual disagreement is unjustified—an ad hoc attempt to save the ideal of public justification from the endemic actual disagreement that threatens it. Disagreement over norms is relevant to political legitimacy; so, too, is disagreement over facts. I draw two implications from this point. First, inasmuch as accounts of public justification typically involve a unanimity condition, public justification should not be thought a desideratum of political legitimacy. Second, virtuous political praxis will often involve enforcing legislation in spite of unresolved non-normative factual disagreement. That is, with respect to legitimacy, there is nothing morally amiss about such legislation. Clearly these last claims presuppose some basis for legitimacy other than agreement; I will only gesture at what this might be. Assuming that much actual legislation is indeed legitimate, though—in spite of extant normative and non-normative disagreement—I go so far as concluding that such a basis, whatever it is, must exist.
UNCERTAINTY, DECISION SCIENCE, AND POLICY MAKING: A MANIFESTO FOR A RESEARCH AGENDA
David Tuckett, Antoine Mandel, Diana Mangalagiu, Allen Abramson, Jochen Hinkel, Konstantinos Katsikopoulos, Alan Kirman, Thierry Malleret, Igor Mozetic, Paul Ormerod, Robert Elliot Smith, Tommaso Venturini, and Angela Wilkinson
ABSTRACT: The financial crisis of 2008 was unforeseen partly because the academic theories that underpin policy making do not sufficiently account for uncertainty and complexity or learned and evolved human capabilities for managing them. Mainstream theories of decision making tend to be strongly normative and based on wishfully unrealistic “idealized” modeling. In order to develop theories of actual decision making under uncertainty, we need new methodologies that account for how human (sentient) actors often manage uncertain situations “well enough.” Some possibly helpful methodologies, drawing on digital science, focus on the role of emotions in determining people's choices; others examine how people construct narratives that enable them to act; still others combine qualitative with quantitative data.
THE EPISTEMOLOGY OF FACT CHECKING (IS STILL NAÌVE): REJOINDER TO AMAZEEN
Joseph E. Uscinski
ABSTRACT: Michelle Amazeen's rebuttal of Uscinski and Butler 2013 is unsuccessful. Amazeen's attempt to infer the accuracy of fact checks from their agreement with each other fails on its own terms and, in any event, could as easily be explained by fact checkers’ political biases as their common access to the objective truth. She also ignores the distinction between verifiable facts and unverifiable claims about the future, as well as contestable claims about the causes of political, social, and economic phenomena. The social benefits that she claims for the fact-checking enterprise must, at the very least, be weighed against the strong possibility that what passes for fact checking is actually just a veiled continuation of politics by means of journalism rather than being an independent, objective counterweight to political untruths.