Rationalizing Capitalist Democracy: The Cold War Origins of Rational Choice Liberalism

Front Cover
University of Chicago Press, Oct 15, 2003 - Political Science - 401 pages
0 Reviews
In Rationalizing Capitalist Democracy, S. M. Amadae tells the remarkable story of how rational choice theory rose from obscurity to become the intellectual bulwark of capitalist democracy. Amadae roots Rationalizing Capitalist Democracy in the turbulent post-World War II era, showing how rational choice theory grew out of the RAND Corporation's efforts to develop a "science" of military and policy decisionmaking. But while the first generation of rational choice theorists—William Riker, Kenneth Arrow, and James Buchanan—were committed to constructing a "scientific" approach to social science research, they were also deeply committed to defending American democracy from its Marxist critics. Amadae reveals not only how the ideological battles of the Cold War shaped their ideas but also how those ideas may today be undermining the very notion of individual liberty they were created to defend.

What people are saying - Write a review

We haven't found any reviews in the usual places.


Decision Technologies and Policy Science
CHAPTER 2 Kenneth J Arrows Social Choice and Individual Values
CHAPTER 3 James M Buchanan and Gordon Tullocks Public Choice Theory
CHAPTER 4 William H Rikers Positive Political Theory
CHAPTER 6 Adam Smiths System of Natural Liberty
CHAPTER 7 Rational Mechanics Marginalist Economics and Rational Choice
CHAPTER 8 Consolidating Rational Choice Liberalism 19702000
EPILOGUE From the Panopticon to the Prisoners Dilemma

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

Popular passages

Page 17 - And we define: the democratic method is that institutional arrangement for arriving at political decisions in which individuals acquire the power to decide by means of a competitive struggle for the people's vote.
Page 19 - The third and last duty of the sovereign or commonvealth is that of erecting and maintaining those public institutions and those public works, which, though they may be in the highest degree advantageous to a great society, are, however, of such a nature, that the prof,t could never repay the expense to any individual or small number of individuals, and which it, therefore, cannot be expected that any individual or small number of individuals should erect or maintain.
Page 18 - general interest." It does not need much reflection to see that these terms have no sufficiently definite meaning to determine a particular course of action. The welfare and the happiness of millions cannot be measured on a single scale of less and more. The welfare of a people, like the happiness of a man, depends on a great many things that can be provided in an infinite variety of combinations. It cannot be adequately expressed as a single end, but only as a hierarchy of ends, a comprehensive...

References to this book

All Book Search results »

About the author (2003)

S. M. Amadae is a research fellow in the Office for History of Science and Technology at the University of California, Berkeley.

Bibliographic information