chapter  2
Rational Choice and Public Affairs
ByMachan Tibor
Pages 37

In some contemporary studies of public choice, economists and decision theorists argue that democratic politics leads to inherent contradictions when it attempts to rank collective priorities. This chapter discusses the ancient topic of rational public choice, one that pertains to how we might evaluate the actions taken by political representatives, leaders, officials, or others whose work is to secure the public interest. It discusses the fact that there exists widespread dissatisfaction with the prominent approaches to solving the problem of rational public choice. One could easily reach a quite different conclusion from Kenneth Arrow’s proof, namely, that prevailing utilitarian standards of rationality are inapplicable as guides to action in a democratic society. The chapter focuses on the specific requirements for formulating or selecting a theory of public choice. It also focuses on the nature of public affairs and describes why the treatment is superior to those offered by the usual decision theories.