The minimalist conception of democracy as informed by the works of Schumpeter, Riker, and Hardin.
Thomson, Patrick Alan
This thesis examines what has become increasingly classified as the minimalist conception of democracy, in an effort to define the minimalist conception, evaluate the contributions of Joseph Schumpeter, William Riker, and Russell Hardin, and assesses the impact on democratic theory of grouping these and other theorists together. The idea that minimalist theory is a tradition of democratic thought which shares a common theme has been forwarded directly only once, by Adam Przeworski, and mentioned in passing by several critics, but has never been examined in depth or defined. Chapter one gives a brief survey of minimalist theorists and defines minimalist theories as those that conclude that any normative value found in substantive democratic outcomes is insufficient to justify democracy. Chapters two and three examine the works of the two most influential minimalists, Schumpeter and Riker, respectively. These chapters examine the minimalist aspects of both theorists and note that, in entirely unique manners, both reach the minimalist conclusion. Chapter four examines the relatively recent works of Hardin, noting several similarities between his theories and those of Schumpeter and Riker. Hardin is found to satisfy the definition of minimalism and make several unique contributions to minimalist theory, most notably by synthesizing Schumpeter's understanding of individual political competence with Downs's rational voter theorem. In the conclusion, chapter five, it is argued that there is merit to considering all minimalist theories as a single conception of democracy as theories that contradict the minimalist conception, as defined in chapter one, often attempt to dismiss one minimalist theorist, but ignore the others, to the detriment of their work and to democratic theory in general.
DegreeMaster of Arts (M.A.)