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Sean Ingham
University of California, San Diego
  1. Social Choice and Popular Control.Sean Ingham - 2016 - Journal of Theoretical Politics 28 (2):331-349.
    In democracies citizens are supposed to have some control over the general direction of policy. According to a pretheoretical interpretation of this idea, the people have control if elections and other democratic institutions compel officials to do what the people want, or what the majority want. This interpretation of popular control fits uncomfortably with insights from social choice theory; some commentators—Riker, most famously—have argued that these insights should make us abandon the idea of popular rule as traditionally understood. This article (...)
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    The Stability of the Just Society: Why Fixed Point Theorems Are Beside The Point.Sean Ingham & David Wiens - forthcoming - Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy:1-8.
    Political theorists study the attributes of desirable social-moral states of affairs. Schaefer (forthcoming) aims to show that "static political theory" of this kind rests on shaky foundations. His argument revolves around an application of an abstruse mathematical theorem -- Kakutani's fixed point theorem -- to the social-moral domain. We show that Schaefer has misunderstood the implications of this theorem for political theory. Theorists who wish to study the attributes of social-moral states of affairs should carry on, safe in the knowledge (...)
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  3. Demographic Objections to Epistocracy: A Generalization.Sean Ingham & David Wiens - 2021 - Philosophy and Public Affairs 49 (4):323-349.
    Several scholars have recently entertained proposals for "epistocracy," a political regime in which decision-making power is concentrated in the hands of a society's most informed and competent citizens. These proposals rest on the claim that we can expect better political outcomes if we exclude incompetent citizens from participating in political decisions because competent voters are more likely to vote "correctly" than incompetent voters. We develop what we call the objection from selection bias to epistocracy: a procedure that selects voters on (...)
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  4. Republican Freedom, Popular Control, and Collective Action.Sean Ingham & Frank Lovett - forthcoming - American Journal of Political Science.
    Republicans hold that people are dominated merely in virtue of others' having unconstrained abilities to frustrate their choices. They argue further that public officials may dominate citizens unless subject to popular control. Critics identify a dilemma. To maintain the possibility of popular control, republicans must attribute to the people an ability to control public officials merely in virtue of the possibility that they might coordinate their actions. But if the possibility of coordination suffices for attributing abilities to groups, then, even (...)
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  5. Representative Democracy and Social Equality.Sean Ingham - 2021 - American Political Science Review:1-13.
    When are inequalities in political power undemocratic, and why? While some writers condemn any inequalities in political power as a deviation from the ideal of democracy, this view is vulnerable to the simple objection that representative democracies concentrate political power in the hands of elected officials rather than distributing it equally among citizens, but they are no less democratic for it. Building on recent literature that interprets democracy as part of a broader vision of social equality, I argue that concentrations (...)
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  6. Popular Rule in Schumpeter's Democracy.Sean Ingham - 2016 - Political Studies 64 (4):1071-1087.
    In this article, it is argued that existing democracies might establish popular rule even if Joseph Schumpeter’s notoriously unflattering picture of ordinary citizens is accurate. Some degree of popular rule is in principle compatible with apathetic, ignorant and suggestible citizens, contrary to what Schumpeter and others have maintained. The people may have control over policy, and their control may constitute popular rule, even if citizens lack definite policy opinions and even if their opinions result in part from elites’ efforts to (...)
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  7. Why Arrow's Theorem Matters for Political Theory Even If Preference Cycles Never Occur.Sean Ingham - forthcoming - Public Choice.
    Riker (1982) famously argued that Arrow’s impossibility theorem undermined the logical foundations of “populism”, the view that in a democracy, laws and policies ought to express “the will of the people”. In response, his critics have questioned the use of Arrow’s theorem on the grounds that not all configurations of preferences are likely to occur in practice; the critics allege, in particular, that majority preference cycles, whose possibility the theorem exploits, rarely happen. In this essay, I argue that the critics’ (...)
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  8. Defining 'Democracy': Are We Staying on Topic?Sean Ingham & David Wiens - manuscript
    Political scientists' failure to pay careful attention to the content (as opposed to the operationalization) of their chosen definition of 'democracy' can make them liable to draw invalid inferences from their empirical research. With this problem in mind, we argue for the following proposition: if one wishes to conduct empirical research that contributes to an existing conversation about democracy, then one must choose a definition of 'democracy' that picks out the topic of that conversation as opposed to some other (perhaps (...)
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  9. Theorems and Models in Political Theory: An Application to Pettit on Popular Control.Sean Ingham - 2015 - The Good Society 24 (1):98-117.
    Pettit (2012) presents a model of popular control over government, according to which it consists in the government being subject to those policy-making norms that everyone accepts. In this paper, I provide a formal statement of this interpretation of popular control, which illuminates its relationship to other interpretations of the idea with which it is easily conflated, and which gives rise to a theorem, similar to the famous Gibbard-Satterthwaite theorem. The theorem states that if government policy is subject to popular (...)
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