Principles of Politics

Principles of Politics : A Rational Choice Theory Guide to Politics and Social Justice

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Modern rational choice and social justice theories allow scholars to develop new understandings of the foundations and general patterns of politics and political behavior. In this book, Joe Oppenheimer enumerates and justifies the empirical and moral generalizations commonly derived from these theories. In developing these arguments, Oppenheimer gives students a foundational basis of both formal theory and theories of social justice, and their related experimental literatures. He uses empirical findings to evaluate the validity of the claims. This basic survey of the findings of public choice theory for political scientists covers the problems of collective action, institutional structures, citizen well-being and social welfare, regime change and political leadership. Principles of Politics highlights what is universal to all of politics and examines both the empirical problems of political behavior and the normative conundrums of social justice.
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Product details

  • Electronic book text
  • Cambridge University Press (Virtual Publishing)
  • Cambridge, United Kingdom
  • 45 b/w illus. 23 tables
  • 1139512323
  • 9781139512329

Table of contents

Introduction: politics, universals, knowledge claims, and methods; Part I. The Logic of Collective Action: 1. Voluntary contributions and collective action; 2. Going beyond the prisoner dilemma; 3. Collective action applications to and beyond democratic politics; Part II. Collective Choice: 4. Individual to collective choice in one dimensional politics; 5. Individual to collective choice more generally; Part III. Political Institutions and Quality Outcomes: 6. Political necessity and the tethering of leaders; 7. A few institutional pitfalls; Part IV. Social Justice, Choice, and Welfare: 8. The general problem of collective welfare and choice; 9. Voting rules; 10. Social welfare and social justice: a partial integration; Conclusion: 11. Questions and lessons.
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Review quote

'Oppenheimer's book makes big claims about what we know about complex political phenomena, and backs those claims up with rigorous argument. Each chapter unfolds with unique insights in the form of 'propositions' on collective action, social choice, institutional design, and political leadership. This makes the book easily the most cogent and coherent account available of rational choice models and what they have to say about the political world we live in.' Gary Miller, Washington University, St Louis 'Oppenheimer's Principles of Politics is intellectually incisive, and a practical book for anyone concerned with what government can - or should - do about the common good. Instead of grand apolitical claims about justice divorced from political institutions or amoral empirically precise analyses of political outcomes, Oppenheimer responds to Amartya Sen's calls to skip the trivial objections and begin eliminating intense injustice or unfairness. He overcomes Kenneth Arrow's claims that the common good cannot be agreed upon and John Rawl's assertions about what a just agreement should be. A timely, inspiring clarion call.' Samuel Popkin, University of California, San Diego 'I am often asked 'what is political science?' Oppenheimer has given me the broad outline to answer this question. Firmly rooted in the rational choice tradition (with a focus on both positive and normative political theories), this book is a clear and lucid discussion of the central problems tackled by political scientists and a wonderful overview of the state of the discipline's knowledge. The book takes stock of 61 propositions by political scientists, places those propositions in their logical and empirical context, and makes the case for their truth content. Even better, Oppenheimer points to areas that are fruitful for new work. Anyone, from a beginning student in political science to a wizened senior member of the discipline, can benefit from Oppenheimer's insights and conjectures.' Rick K. Wilson, editor of the American Journal of Political Science
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About Joe Oppenheimer

Joe Oppenheimer is Emeritus Professor in the Department of Government and Politics at the University of Maryland.
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