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  1.  74
    Voter Ignorance and the Democratic Ideal.Ilya Somin - 1998 - Critical Review 12 (4):413-458.
    Abstract If voters do not understand the programs of rival candidates or their likely consequences, they cannot rationally exercise control over government. An ignorant electorate cannot achieve true democratic control over public policy. The immense size and scope of modern government makes it virtually impossible for voters to acquire sufficient knowledge to exercise such control. The problem is exacerbated by voters? strong incentive to be ?rationally ignorant? of politics. This danger to democracy cannot readily be circumvented through ?shortcut? methods of (...)
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  2.  15
    The Ongoing Debate Over Political Ignorance: Reply to My Critics.Ilya Somin - 2015 - Critical Review 27 (3-4):380-414.
    ABSTRACTThe participants in this symposium raise many insightful criticisms and reservations about my book Democracy and Political Ignorance: Why Smaller Government Is Smarter. But none substantially undermine its main thesis: that rational political ignorance and rational irrationality are major problems for democracy that are best addressed by limiting and decentralizing government power. Part I of this reply addresses criticisms of my analysis of the problem of political ignorance and its causes. Part II assesses challenges to my proposed solution.
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  3. Knowledge About Ignorance: New Directions in the Study of Political Information.Ilya Somin - 2006 - Critical Review 18 (1-3):255-278.
    For decades, scholars have recognized that most citizens have little or no political knowledge, and that it is in fact rational for the average voter to make little or no effort to acquire political information. Rational ignorance is fully compatible with the so?called ?paradox of voting? because it will often be rational for citizens to vote, but irrational for them to become well informed. Furthermore, rational ignorance leads not only to inadequate acquisition of political information, but also to ineffective use (...)
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  4.  16
    Why Political Ignorance Undermines the Wisdom of the Many.Ilya Somin - 2014 - Critical Review 26 (1-2):151-169.
    ABSTRACTHélène Landemore's Democratic Reason effectively demonstrates how cognitive diversity may potentially improve the quality of democratic decisions. But in setting out the preconditions that democracy must meet in order for the many to make collectively well-informed decisions, Landemore undermines the case for voter competence more than she strengthens it. The conditions she specifies are highly unlikely to be achieved by any real-world democracy. Widespread voter ignorance and the size and complexity of modern government are severe obstacles to any effort to (...)
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  5.  50
    Deliberative Democracy and Political Ignorance.Ilya Somin - 2010 - Critical Review 22 (2-3):253-279.
    Advocates of ?deliberative democracy? want citizens to actively participate in serious dialogue over political issues, not merely go to the polls every few years. Unfortunately, these ideals don't take into account widespread political ignorance and irrationality. Most voters neither attain the level of knowledge needed to make deliberative democracy work, nor do they rationally evaluate the political information they do possess. The vast size and complexity of modern government make it unlikely that most citizens can ever reach the levels of (...)
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  6.  51
    Foot Voting, Political Ignorance, and Constitutional Design.Ilya Somin - 2011 - Social Philosophy and Policy 28 (1):202-227.
    The strengths and weaknesses of federalism have been debated for centuries. But one major possible advantage of building decentralization and limited government into a constitution has been largely ignored in the debate so far: its potential for reducing the costs of widespread political ignorance. The argument of this paper is simple, but has potentially important implications: Constitutional federalism enables citizens to “vote with their feet,” and foot voters have much stronger incentives to make well-informed decisions than more conventional ballot box (...)
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  7.  20
    Richard Posner's Democratic Pragmatism and the Problem of Ignorance.Ilya Somin - 2004 - Critical Review 16 (1):1-22.
    Abstract Richard Posner's Law, Pragmatism, and Democracy urges that political and legal decision makers should be guided by what he calls ?everyday pragmatism,? rather than by ?abstract? moral theory. He links his conception of pragmatic government to Sclmmpeter's unromantic view of democracy. Posner argues that judicial review should be based on a combination of pragmatism and adherence to this limited conception of democracy, rather than sticking closely to ?formalist? theories of adjudication, which demand strict adherence to traditional legal norms. However, (...)
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  8.  40
    Roundtable 1: Public Ignorance: Rational, Irrational, or Inevitable?Scott Althaus, Bryan Caplan, Jeffrey Friedman, Ilya Somin & Nassim Nicholas Taleb - 2008 - Critical Review 20 (4):423-444.
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  9.  19
    Democracy and Voter Ignorance Revisited: Rejoinder to Ciepley.Ilya Somin - 2000 - Critical Review 14 (1):99-111.
    Abstract Democratic control of public policy is nearly impossible in the presence of extreme voter ignorance, and this ignorance is in part caused by the vast size and scope of modern government. Only a government limited in its scope can be meaningfully democratic. David Ciepley's response to my article does not seriously challenge this conclusion, and his attempts to show that limited government is inherently undemocratic fail. Ciepley's alternative vision of a ?democracy? that does not require informed voters turns out (...)
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  10.  27
    Josiah Ober, Democracy and Knowledge: Innovation and Learning in Classical Athens. [REVIEW]Ilya Somin - 2009 - Ethics 119 (3):585-590.
  11.  15
    Do Politicians Pander?Ilya Somin - 2000 - Critical Review 14 (2-3):147-155.
    Abstract In Politicians Don't Pander, Lawrence Jacobs and Robert Shapiro show that politicians follow public opinion much less slavishly than conventional wisdom suggests. However, the case studies they themselves rely on show that public opinion constrains policy makers more than they claim. Conversely, to the extent that political leaders are able to ignore the public's wishes, Jacobs and Shapiro do not adequately consider the possibility that this is due in large part to severe voter ignorance of public policy. In urging (...)
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  12.  21
    Democracy and Political Knowledge in Ancient Athens.Ilya Somin - 2009 - Ethics 119 (3):585-590.
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  13.  19
    Pragmatism, Democracy, and Judicial Review: Rejoinder to Posner.Ilya Somin - 2004 - Critical Review 16 (4):473-481.
    Abstract Posner's ?pragmatic? defense of broad judicial deference to legislative power still reflects the shortcomings noted in my review of his Law, Pragmatism, and Democracy. His pragmatism still fails to provide meaningful criteria for decision making that do not collapse into an indeterminate relativism; and his argument that strict constraints on judicial power are required by respect for democracy underestimates the importance of two serious interconnected weaknesses of the modern state: widespread voter ignorance, and interest?group exploitation of that ignorance.
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  14.  18
    Roundtable 5: Normative Implications.Jeffrey Friedman, Tom Hoffman, Russell Muirhead, Mark Pennington & Ilya Somin - 2008 - Critical Review 20 (4):499-525.
  15.  18
    The Promise and Peril of Epistocracy.Ilya Somin - forthcoming - Tandf: Inquiry:1-8.
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