Clap happy: Applause and the voting paradox

Journal of Economic Methodology 13 (2):241-256 (2006)
The voting paradox has been a problem for both the public choice and rational choice schools. A recent attempt to deal with this paradox argues that voting is like applauding at a concert and is therefore expressive rather than rational behavior. This paper argues that such a move fails because: (1) there are many essential differences between voting and clapping; (2) philosophical problems arise from trying to divorce voting from rational behavior; and (3) there are a number of empirical problems with this position. The paper concludes that expressionism approaches the voting paradox from the wrong side. Problems arise not because of what people do when they vote but because the rational choice and public choice schools have a wrong?headed view of rationality.
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