On September 27, 2004 Geoffrey Brennan's co-authors and friends were brought together when the Italian Ministry of the Economy and Finance, Rome, Italy hosted a conference organized by the European Center for the Study of Public Choice to honor and celebrate Geoffrey Brennan’s 60th birthday. Contributors were key actors across several disciplines and their papers offered fresh attention to the topics and issues that characterize Geoffrey Brennan’s intellectual development. Geoffrey Brennan was not the first in the Public Choice tradition to build links between economics, politics and philosophy. However, his work, and that of his co-authors, has been very influential in a number of areas and particularly in exploring our understanding of the limits of rational behavior in political settings. Following the opening address by Giuseppe Eusepi, the Dean of the Faculty of Economics of the University of Rome "La Sapienza", Professor Attilio Celant, welcomed the attendees. The first session, chaired by Giuseppe Eusepi, started with a paper by James M. Buchanan entitled "Subjective Evaluation of Alternatives in Individual Voting Choice". Buchanan argued that the individual's primitive preference ordering is the benchmark and base of conventional analysis of voting behavior. In market exchange, maximizing behavior implies that choices mirror the preference ordering. In collective choice, this linkage is not present. The ability of the individual to order differences, a property of subjective cardinal utility, does not add explanatory power to market behavior. Such ability becomes relevant, however, in explanation of individual behavior in collective or political settings. The argument was concentrated on the demonstration that disconnects emerge between primitive orderings and revealed voting when the individual is acknowledged to be able to order differences and to make any predictions about the voting behavior of others. It followed a paper by Robert E. Goodin on “Truth, Justice and Democracy”. Goodin focused on democracy as an aid to pursue both truth and justice and analyzed two closely related propositions: the Condorcet jury theorem and the Rae-Taylor Majority Rule theorem. He pointed out that the first shows that the outcome of a majority vote among a large number of independent and only moderately competent voters on an issue of fact will almost certainly be correct, and so links democracy to truth. The latter shows that simple majority rule is the decision rule which uniquely maximizes the probability of your being on the winning side among any set of independent voters with uncertain preferences and so links democracy to justice. Goodin contended that both these demonstrations depend on an assumption of statistical independence. That assumption may correspond well to the conditions of radically individualistic, pluralistic societies; so that the theorems linking democracy to truth and justice can be expected to hold. He then explored what might be expected to happen to those relationships under other social conditions and argued that conditions of social unity make democracy less truthful but more just, whereas radical forms of social segmentation threaten to undermine democracy's performance in both dimensions. The session ended with a paper by Philip Pettit who ably demonstrated that many norms arise, or at least stabilize, as a result of an error on people’s parts as to the attitudes of others. He suggested that two sorts of error are particularly relevant: errors about the values and the attitudes that prevail in a group; and the error of thinking that others act in conformity to a norm out of a sense of that value, not for other reasons: out of virtue. He provided examples of value-mistaken and virtue-mistaken norms and some general lessons drawn about what supports norms in general. The second session, chaired by Alan Hamlin, included two papers. The first paper was by Giuseppe Eusepi, who tackled the fundamental question of “Who shall keep the keepers themselves? On the Moral Foundations of the Separation of Powers”. He argued that the classic problem is typical of separated powers and alien to either anarchy or absolutism. Careful attention was paid to how the institutional environment molds the different guises the problem might have. Drawing upon work by Geoffrey Brennan, he illustrated his elaboration of the concept of compound symmetry. Eusepi’s portrait of constitutional courts revealed how difficult it is to have a third party as the ultimate guardian or keeper. He attempted to demystify the role of constitutional courts in Western democracies, and provided a reply to the often-asked question: "Is the constitutional court, which has been empowered to keep the keepers, an impartial institution that prevents dictatorial solutions?” To answer this question he focused on the Italian Constitutional Court and showed how the body that was originally designated to control the government ends up by making the quis custodiet ipsos custodes problem a perennial one. He concluded by suggesting the possible devices that can be introduced to limit rent-seeking activities by the government and the measures to be put in place to prevent the judges of the Court, following their incentives, from behaving as informal agents of the government. It then followed a paper by Dwight R. Lee entitled “Expressive Voting: How Special Interests Enlist Their Victims as Political Allies” that attempted to extend the logic of expressive voting beyond the voting booth to the next level of political decision-making, and argued that expressive voting seldom achieves the outcomes favored by expressive voters themselves. His argument developed an insight that Brennan and Lomasky (1993) mention but fail to develop concerning the manipulation of expressive concerns by candidates and interest groups. He argued that organized interests will encourage expressive voting as a first step in ‘victimizing’ members of the public. After noting that voters are, in effect, enlisted as the political allies of those who exploit their gullibility, he concluded on a more optimistic note by considering the possibility that expressive voting can still provide voters with their best hope for imposing discipline on their political agents, and limits on the influence of organized interests. The last session was chaired by James M. Buchanan. The first paper was by Professor Hartmut Kliemt entitled "The World Is a Table. Economic Philosophy Stated Flatly in Terms of Rows, Columns and Cells". He started from the Buchananesque observation that, properly speaking, there cannot be “social choice”. Using Pattanaik’s recent re-evaluation of the social choice approach, a deliberational and an institutional variant were exemplified by discussions of the paradox of liberalism. He argued that where Sen must deal with the “liberal nature” of the evaluation of games and the rank ordering of whole game forms, the normative constitutional political economist discusses the more or less “liberal” character of the rules of the games that are ranked and concluded that, as suspected by Bergson and Little, social choice theory must be about axiology rather than choice. The conference closed with a paper by Alan Hamlin entitled “Political Dispositions”. He based his argumentation on earlier work with Geoffrey Brennan to further develop an approach to individual political motivations that stresses the role of dispositions rather than first order desires. He clarified the nature of a disposition; suggested a typology of dispositions and discussed the relationship between dispositions, desires and beliefs. He pointed out the importance of dispositions in political settings and their relationship with expressive behavior; and focused on the case of multiple dispositions. He contrasted two particular dispositions - the virtuous disposition and the conservative disposition. Giuseppe Eusepi closed the conference with a note of appreciation for the high quality of the papers and the lively and informed comments that contributed to illuminate important areas of Geoffrey Brennan's thought. He also thanked Geoffrey Brennan's friends and colleagues for attending the conference and wished Brennan many years of continued success in his labors. Finally, he expressed his gratitude to Capitalia Gruppo Bancario for its generous financial support.
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|Titolo:||“Beyond Conventional Economics. Studies in the Intellectual Development of Geoffrey Brennan”|
|Data di pubblicazione:||2004|
|Appartiene alla tipologia:||14g Organizzazione di convegni|