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In Our NameThe Ethics of Democracy$
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Eric Beerbohm

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780691154619

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691154619.001.0001

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What Is It Like to Be a Citizen?

What Is It Like to Be a Citizen?

Chapter:
(p.125) Chapter 5 What Is It Like to Be a Citizen?
Source:
In Our Name
Author(s):

Eric Beerbohm

Publisher:
Princeton University Press
DOI:10.23943/princeton/9780691154619.003.0006

This chapter defends a theory of citizenship that recognizes our need to make online decisions under electoral pressures, given our foibles as decision makers. Drawing upon the extensive literature on decision and judgment, it examines how fragile citizens are when it comes to decision making. The usual heuristics offered by political scientists suggest that citizens rely on informational shortcuts that are morally irresponsible. If we reconceive the role of the voter in explicitly moral terms, this approach is unsatisfactory in addressing the cognitive biases and defects of citizens. The chapter also considers the notion of cognitive partisanship and argues that it is unavoidable for decision makers to rely on heuristics when they reason about complex decisions. It concludes by emphasizing the task for a democratic ethics of belief: to provide citizens with heuristics that reduce the cognitive burden while respecting the moral obligations to attach to coercive, term-shaping decision making.

Keywords:   citizenship, citizens, decision making, heuristics, cognitive biases, cognitive partisanship, belief, cognitive burden, moral obligations

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