(L85) Professors Caplan & Casey on Rationality & Representation

1.) Are voters informed? If not, why not? According to Professor Caplan, is the problem ignorance or irrationality?

It is generally known and a “wide consensus among social scientists” that voters, for the most part, are uninformed. Professor Bryan Caplan argues opposing the miracle of aggregation, stating that voters are making systematical errors, rather than random ones. He expanded on this by saying that the errors being committed are biased in a certain direction, and that they are not randomly distributed whatsoever. Caplan points the finger at irrationality of voters rather than ignorance, his reasoning for doing so being that “false beliefs are cheap”. False political beliefs carry no weight when it comes to actually effecting ones life (unlike a false medical or health belief, which would effect one almost immediately and directly); this being the case, people are more inclined not to care, or to be irrational.

2.) Professor Casey claims that the idea of political representation is an empty one. How does he defend this argument?

Professor Gerard Casey defends the idea that political representation is a fallacy by breaking down the basics of a political representative’s position. Summing it up wonderfully, Tom Woods states that the “agent is not responsible to the principal, who is not one, but many people; the vast bulk of whom the agent does not even know”. With the issue being that the agent (political representative) has multiple principals(clients/people), there is simply no way that each of the people can have their needs and wants met exactly and/or directly. Each of these people has different motivations, and (many have) irreconcilable interests.  In conclusion, a political representative stands for special interests, personal motivations and ultimately, representation of the very system they claim to represent people for; the government.

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