23. Democracy and Majority Rule (II)

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Moral Foundations of Politics (PLSC 118)

Majority rule and democratic competition serve as the focus of this, second lecture on the democratic tradition. What it is about majority rule that confers legitimacy on collective decisions. Is there validity to a utilitarian justification, that catering to the wishes of the majority maximizes the happiness of the greatest number? Does majority rule reflect what Rousseau called the general will? What, even, is the general will? Does Arrow's paradox indicate that the results of voting are arbitrary? Is majority rule just an exercise in realpolitik? Professor Shapiro makes the point that crosscutting cleavages discussed on Monday are the key to unlocking majority rule and limiting the possibility of domination; although one may be in the majority today, the possibility of being in the minority tomorrow prevents tyranny. Several models of democracy are discussed: the public choice model of Buchanan and Tullock, Rae and Barry's critique of Buchanan and Tullock, Schumpeter's marketplace model, the Hotelling-Downs median voter theorem, and Huntington's two turnover test.

00:00 - Chapter 1. Introduction: Majority Rule and Democratic Competition
11:38 - Chapter 2. Locke on Majority Rule
17:24 - Chapter 3. Why does Majority Rule Limit the Possibility of Domination?
25:55 - Chapter 4. Majority versus Unanimity Rule
30:32 - Chapter 5. Schumpeter: Non-dominant and Pluralist Competition

Complete course materials are available at the Open Yale Courses website: http://open.yale.edu/courses

This course was recorded in Spring 2010.