Rational choice and democratic deliberation: A theory of discourse failure

Guido Pincione, Fernando R. Tesón

Research output: Book/ReportBook

80 Scopus citations


In public political deliberation, people will err and lie in accordance with definite patterns. Such discourse failure results from behavior that is both instrumentally and epistemically rational. The deliberative practices of a liberal democracy (let alone repressive or non-democratic societies) cannot be improved so as to overcome the tendency for rational citizens to believe and say things at odds with reliable propositions of social science. The theory has several corollaries. One is that much contemporary political philosophy can be seen as an unsuccessful attempt to vindicate, on symbolic and moral grounds, the forms that discourse failure take on in public political deliberation. Another is that deliberative practices cannot be rescued even on non-epistemic grounds, such as social peace, impartiality, participation, and equality. To alleviate discourse failure, this 2006 book proposes to reduce the scope of majoritarian politics and enlarge markets.

Original languageEnglish (US)
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages258
ISBN (Electronic)9780511720178
ISBN (Print)9780521862691
StatePublished - Jan 1 2006

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities(all)


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