PPE Reading Group – September 26th, 2017

The PPE group engages in weekly conversations with diverse points of view in an effort to deepen our understanding of the intersection between politics, philosophy, and economics

This week in the Philosophy, Politics, and Economics reading group, we read and discussed Polycentricity, Self-Governance, and the Art & Science of Association by Peter Boettke, Jayme Lemke, and Liya Palagashvili. The article discussed the similarities and differences in the art and science of association between Elinor and Vincent Ostrom and the Austrian school of Economics. We also read and discussed Charles Tiebout’s seminal 1956 essay, A Pure Theory of Local Expenditures. On the discussion board, the conversation center around two main topics: Exit, voice, and loyalty applied to controversy surrounding the NFL and the interplay between polycentric governance and feedback.

Click “continue reading” for a selection of our conversation.

Exit, Voice, Loyalty & The NFL

Dr. Thomas:

I can’t help but think that the protests at football games this weekend are a good example of voice. My facebook feed has been full of people suggesting that those who do not stand for the national anthem should exit. This seems to entirely dismiss the notion of loyalty. What norms do we impose on the social space that keep us from telling those in our society to exit when we disagree. We all might feel loyalty ourselves, but it seems that it is vitally important to consider other’s loyalty when we try to talk about ideal democratic representation of the voices of others.

Katie Kentfield:

Exit, voice, and loyalty serve as reactions to institutional changes, which provoke action or inaction amongst community members. The challenge of social norms intensified last game day as paid professional athletes took a knee. Can variations in competing values be adjusted or recombined?

Renato Morais:

I wonder if, currently, voice matters at all in society, and if we are not just bound by a trade off between exit and loyalty.

As you mentioned, critics have said if the football players don’t appreciate our country, they should just leave. But the fact that they are staying and using their voice shows that they do appreciate our country, so much so that they are willing to take on the cost of dissenters (who could be fans and possibly their bosses) to try to encourage our nation to find a solution for the issue they’re attempting to bring attention to.

Katherine Bonn:

I think this discussion of ‘does voice matter’ fits well into the context of polycentricity and self-governance, as we see that voice matters increasingly more on a smaller scale. For example, in the context of determining which movie you will see with a group of four of your friends, an actor’s voice matters significantly more than that same actor’s voice in the context of the presidential election.

This brings a few complex questions to the forefront of this discussion: What can we do to make voice ‘matter’ more on a larger scale? What can we do to incentivize people to use their voice on a large scale? What feedback can we provide people to show them that using their voice is a worthwhile pursuits

Katheryn Furlong:

Perhaps consolidated and centralized powers experience less of a need to be responsive to feedback due to the lack of competition from other systems. In certain cases, perhaps feedback would be welcomed and encouraged, but it is at a disadvantaged position to respond to feedback by its nature of being broad and encompassing.

Feedback & Polycentric Governance

Kevin Thomson:

I agree that exit, voice, and loyalty provides a good framework for the discussion. Both voice and exit are forms of the all crucial “feedback mechanism”. States and cities that are doing well don’t have declining populations. Properly functioning cities shouldn’t have people flooding the streets either.

Kevin Dowling:

What I found particularly interesting in this weeks reading was Vincent Ostrom’s interpretation that our current state of governance is perhaps far more fragile than we would like to think and requires constant attention, energy, and action to maintain. “democratic societies are ‘vulnerable to an unlimited pursuit of strategic opportunism when people are spared the cares of thinking and the troubles of living'”.

Sarah Starkey:

I’ve always admired the phrase “vote with your feet” – or just the concept of “foot voting” in general. To vote with one’s feet is to 1. leave where they dislike being or 2. go to a place that may benefit them more than their current situation. The way I became more familiar with this concept was through learning about differing state laws. Back home, it is a 30-minute drive to access 3 states (ME, NH, MA). Many of my friend’s parents and family that disliked the laws in NH would move just across the border to ME – where the regulations were more to their liking.

Allie Hall:

According to the Ostroms, polycentric systems have the ability to develop a community culture in which members trust one another, have the incentives and resources to attain information from other individuals, and recognize their responsibility in contributing to the larger structure while maintaining the autonomy to make their own choices.

Jim Brennan:

The rise of instant communication, especially video communication, means that this is no longer as large of a concern, and as communication media improves it will become less and less of one.

This seems to be very good news for the future, as expanding the opportunities for people to move means that communities will absolutely need to be desirable or face mass exodus. While this already happens to a degree today, it will happen more and more as exit costs grow smaller. This requirement for communities to become desirable in order to survive will result in a higher quality of life for most everyone, and a better world in general.