Rationality Institon Behaviour Exam Paper

Rationality Institon Behaviour Exam Paper

Hume’s Marsh – Draining game • No matter what Farmer B does, Farmer A always gets a higher payoff if he chooses not to drain. The reasoning is precisely the same • No matter what Farmer A does, Farmer B always gets a higher payoff if he chooses not to drain. Stag Hunt game (Rousseau) • An alternative vision of the problem of social cooperation is provided by the Stag Hunt Game Hunter B Hunter A Stag Hare Stag 3,3 0,1 Hare 1,0 1,1 Stag Hunt game (Rousseau) • What is the most preferred outcome ? Is there another outcome in which neither player has an incentive to alter his strategy ? Hunter B Hunter A Stag Hare Stag 3,3 0,1 Hare 1,0 1,1 Stag Hunt game (Rousseau) • The most -preferred outcome for both players is (Stag, Stag), for which each player receives a payoff of 3. This outcome is an equilibrium inasmuch as neither player wishes to alter his strategy when he believes the other player will be playing Stag. • (Hare, Hare) is also a stable outcome or equilibrium because if A believes that B is going to play Hare, than A’s best response is also to play Hare. Likewise, if B believes A is going to play Hare, than B will play Hare, too. Hunter B Hunter A Stag Hare Stag 3,3 0,1 Hare 1,0 1,1 Stag Hunt game (Rousseau) • Does either player end up doing better playing either Stag or Hare no matter what his partner chooses to do ( as in the marsh -draining game)? Hunter B Hunter A Stag Hare Stag 3,3 0,1 Hare 1,0 1,1 Stag Hunt game (Rousseau) • Unlike the marsh -draining game,neither Stag nor Hare is always the optimal strategy regardless of the strategy employed by the other player. If a player believes his partner will play Stag then his best option is to play Stag. But if a player believes his parter will play Hare, than his best response is to play Hare. Hunter B Hunter A Stag Hare Stag 3,3 0,1 Hare 1,0 1,1 Stag Hunt game (Rousseau) • How certain must A be that B will playing Stag to do the same ? Hunter B Hunter A Stag Hare Stag 3,3 0,1 Hare 1,0 1,1 Stag Hunt game (Rousseau) • Let’s define pB as the probability that B plays Stag . Then A’s expected utilities associated with the two strategies are: • EUA[Stag] = pB ⋅ 3 + (1 − pB ) ⋅ 0 = 3pB • EUA[Hare] = pB ⋅ 1 + (1 − pB ) ⋅ 1 = 1 Hunter B Hunter A Stag Hare Stag 3,3 0,1 Hare 1,0 1,1 Stag Hunt game (Rousseau) • A will wish to play Stag when EUA[Stag] > EUA[Hare] , namely 3pB > 1 or pB > 1/3 Achieving the most -preferred outcome in this game then requires that both players believe that the other player will play Stag with at least probability 1/3. One interpretation of this is that the equilibrium depends on each player’s conjecture about the other’s behavior . Another interpretation is that the players must trust one another to play a certain outcome (at least up to a point) in order to secure the socially -optimal outcome.Rationality Institon Behaviour Exam Paper.  Hunter B Hunter A Stag Hare Stag 3,3 0,1 Hare 1,0 1,1 Chicken game ( Rebel Without a Cause, 1955) • Another famous coordination Game. Racer B Racer A Go straight Swerve Go straight -5, -5 3, -1 Swerve -1,3 0,0 Chicken game ( Rebel Without a Cause, 1955) • What is (are) the most preferred outcome (s) ? What are the «pure» equilibria outcomes ? Racer B Racer A Go straight Swerve Go straight -5, -5 3, -1 Swerve -1,3 0,0 Chicken game ( Rebel Without a Cause, 1955) • Does either player end up doing better playing either Go Straight or Swerve no matter what his competitor chooses to do ( as in the marsh -draining game)? Racer B Racer A Go straight Swerve Go straight -5, -5 3, -1 Swerve -1,3 0,0 Chicken game ( Rebel Without a Cause, 1955) • Does either player end up doing better playing either Go Straight or Swerve no matter what his competitor chooses to do ( as in the marsh -draining game)? Racer B Racer A Go straight Swerve Go straight -5, -5 3, -1 Swerve -1,3 0,0 Chicken game (« Rebel Without a Cause», 1955) • How certain must A be that B will playing Swerve to play the Go Straight ? Racer B Racer A Go straight Swerve Go straight -5, -5 3, -1 Swerve -1,3 0,0 Chicken game (« Rebel Without a Cause», 1955) Racer B Racer A Go straight Swerve Go straight -5, -5 3, -1 Swerve -1,3 0,0 • Let’s define pB as the probability that B plays Go Straight . Then A’s expected utilities associated with the two strategies are: • EUA[Go straight] = pB ⋅ -5 + (1 − pB ) ⋅ 3 = 3 -8pB • EUA[Swerve] = pB ⋅ -1 + (1 − pB ) ⋅ 0 = -pB Chicken game (« Rebel Without a Cause», 1955) Racer B Racer A Go straight Swerve Go straight -5, -5 3, -1 Swerve -1,3 0,0 • A will wish to play Go Straight when • EUA[Go Straight] > EUA[Swerve] , namely • 3 -8pB > -pB or 3 >7pB or pB <3/7 Gangs’rewarding cooperation • In order to prevent the prisoner’s dilemma outcome , criminal organizations can also reward the “cooperation” ( do not confess) for instance by looking after an individual’s family while the criminal is in prison. Gangs’rewarding cooperation • Suppose that a bonus of is given to a criminal who cooperates but whose partner defects, while a payoff of is given to a criminal who cooperates and whose partner also cooperates. a) Rewrite the payoff matrix b) For what values of and is cooperation an equilibrium ? c) For what values is it the only equilibrium ? Gangs’rewarding cooperation • Mutual cooperation is an equilibrium if ≥ 1. For what values is it the only equilibrium ? • Mutual cooperation is the only equilibrium if ≥1 Apartment cleaning • 4 friends (X, Y , Z ,W) live together in a college apartment and must work together to clean common areas . Outcome is dichotomous and has the feature of the following collective action problem . Assume that B (utility coming from cleaniless )>C ( cost of cleaning ) Apartment cleaning • What are the possible equilibrium outcomes when all 4 friends must contribute ? Which do you think is likely ? Apartment cleaning • What are the possible equilibrium outcomes when all 4 friends must contribute ? Which do you think is likely ? • There are two outcomes which are equilibria: 1) everyone contributes or 2) no one contributes. If everyone contributes, each individual secures a benefit B and pays cost C. Thus, their net payoff is B -C > 0. 1) With everyone contributing, if one person decides to not contribute, than the apartment is not cleaned. Those contributing then get net payoff -C, while the person who didn’t contribute gets a payoff of 0. Because B -C > 0, the now non -contributor is worse off than she had been when she contributed along with all of her apartment mates . 2) If no one is contributing, than each player earns a payoff of 0 . No player will wish to unilaterally start contributing because that will only lead to them paying the cost of contribution without securing any benefit, hence the net payoff goes from 0 to -C, and 0 is preferable. Apartment cleaning • What are the possible equilibrium outcomes when only 2 of the 4 friends must contribute to clean the apartment (k=2)? Can you predict which outcome will occur without further information ? Apartment cleaning • What are the possible equilibrium outcomes when only 2 of the 4 friends must contribute to clean the apartment (k=2)? Can you predict which outcome will occur without further information ? • If only two members are required to clean the apartment, than any combination of the two apartment mates contributing is an equilibrium. XY; XZ; XW; YZ; YW; WZ • Imagine for example, suppose X and Y contribute and Z and W don’t. Z and W certainly don’t want to start contributing because they are already getting B without having to pay C. Nevertheless X and Y still prefer B -C to 0, which is what will occur if either one of them decides to not contribute. There are 6 possible ‘cooperative ’ equilibria. • But there is also one ‘non -cooperative’ equilibrium as no one wants to be a sucker and start contributing on their own, because one person cleaning is insufficient to fully clean the apartment. Thus, there are 7 possible equilibria, and it is hard to predict beforeh
and which will occur . • However , compared to the previous condition, now each roommate has ½ probability to enjoy the cleaniless without any effort Apartment cleaning • How might the prediction change ( when k=2) if B increases or C increases ? What about if B is different for different members of the group ? Apartment cleaning 1)How might the prediction change ( when k=2) if B increases or C increases ? 2) What about if B is different for different members of the group ? 1) Higher B or lower C means that the incentives to coordinate on a cooperative equilibrium are greater . 2) we might expect to see high -B individuals exploited by low -B members, who free ride confident in the knowledge that the very high benefits secured by high -B individuals will motivate them to coordinate on cleaning the apartment. Typology of goods Excludability Yes No Non Rivalrous Yes No Cable or satellite TV «Premium» version on line Journal A Pizza The Global Positioning System (GPS) Public beaches Knowledge Street lighting National Parks One individual public good provision game with mixed strategies • Suppose that there are n individuals who desire a collective good that yields benefit B to all n individuals . Rationality Institon Behaviour Exam Paper. Provision of the good requires only one individual (k=1) to expend C to provide it (B>C). Show that there are n possible sets of «pure» strategy equilibria ( each player i plays « contribute » or « Don’t contribute » with probability 1) One individual public good provision game with mixed strategies • The n possible pure strategy are all the same: one individual contributes and no other player does. • If one individual is contributing, no one else wishes to add on their own contribution because the group benefit B has already been secured by all, and adding a contribution would only waste C units of utility. • The net payoff for the sole contributor is B -C; however, we know this is a positive quantity which the contributor prefers to receiving no B and paying no C ( that would be equal to 0) , which is what will occur if he withdraws his contribution. • There is one ‘single -contribution’ equilibrium for each of our n individuals, and hence n pure strategy equilibria. One individual public good provision game with mixed strategies • Now suppose that all players are playing an indentical mixed strategy . In other terms they probabilistically choose whether to play C (oop .)or D( on’t ) . Call p the probability that any one player plays C. a) Show that for any player i, if he does not contribute , the probability that the good is supplied by some one else is 1 -(1 -p) n -1 One individual public good provision game with mixed strategies if A represents some event occurring and A’ represents that event not occuring , then Pr (A’) = 1 -Pr(A) 2. If A and B are two independent events, then Pr (A and B both occur) = Pr (A)* Pr (B). The probability that a player contributes is p, the probability of that player not contributing is (1 − p).Each player makes their decision independently , so the probability that every player but i does not contribute is (1 − p)(1 − p)…(1 − p) = (1 -p) n -1 If (1 -p) n -1 is the probability that everyone but i does not contribute, then 1 − (1 − p) n−1 is the probability that at least one person (excluding i for the moment) contributes. One individual public good provision game with mixed strategies • Equate the expected utility for i of contributing with the expected utility of not contributing . • Solve the expression you found for p • Show that p is decreasing in C, increasing in B and decreasing in n. One individual public good provision game with mixed strategies • Equate the expected utility for i of contributting with the expected utility of not contributing . • The utility for i of contributing is : EUi [Contribute] = B − C; • while the expected utility for i of not contributing is EUi [Don’t] = B[1 − (1 − p) n−1 ] One individual public good provision game with mixed strategies • When these two expected utilities are equal, i is ambivalent about whether to play Contribute or Don’t, which opens up the possibility of playing a probabilistic mixture of Contribute or Don’t, otherwise known as a mixed strategy. • A player is only willing to play this probabilistic mixture of strategies when the payoffs associated with each strategy are exactly equal. One individual public good provision game with mixed strategies • B − C = B[1 − (1 − p) n−1 ] • B(1 − p) n−1 = C • p = 1 − (C/B ) 1/n− 1 • B > C, therefore C/B < 1. As C increases, the second term gets larger so p gets smaller. • An intuitive interpretation of this is that as the costs of contribution increase, each person is less willing to contribute, holding all other factors constant. • Similarly, as the benefits of contribution (B) increase, individuals are more likely to contribute, reflecting the extra gains from contribution. Finally, as the number of individuals increases, each person is less likely to contribute. • This makes sense, because as more individuals contribute with some probability p the more likely it is the good will be provided (only one needs to contribute, after all so each person can relax a little bit. Externalities • A factory located in a small village produces a good with increasing marginal costs MC(q) = 12 + q; so the first unit costs 13 , the second 14 etc. This firm can produce at most 15 and no fractional amount can be produced . The market price for the good is p=20$ and firm’s level of production does not affect this price . Assume that the factory owner maximizes profit and her utility is measured in dollar . Profit is calculated by summing up differences between the price and the marginal cost of each unit produced . • The factory is noisy and interfere with the practice of a neighboring doctor . For every extra unit produced the doctor loses $2 worth of profits . • The doctor’s welfare depends only on his profits , which are 50 -2q Externalities 1) How many units of the good will the factory produce if it ignores the externality imposed on the doctor in its profit maximization ?Rationality Institon Behaviour Exam Paper.  What will be the aggregate social utility ( factory’s and doctor’s total profits ) ? Externalities (1) • If the factory ignores the external effects of its production, then it will produce up to the point where the marginal revenue of an extra unit equals the marginal cost of an extra unit. The marginal revenue for each unit is $20, and is invariant to the level of production. The marginal cost increases steadily, and will equal $20 when q = 8, which yields a profit of 7+6+5+4+3+2+1+0 = $28. • At this level of production, the doctor’s profits are 50 − 2q = $34. Therefore, aggregate social utility is 28 + 34 = $62 unit revenue cost profit 1 20 13 7 2 40 27 13 3 60 42 18 4 80 58 22 5 100 75 25 6 120 93 27 7 140 112 28 8 160 132 28 9 180 153 27 10 200 175 25 11 220 198 22 0 5 10 15 20 25 30 0 2 4 6 8 10 12 Titolo del grafico marginal revenue marginal cost profit Externalities 2) Identify the level of production that is socially most preferred , in other terms that maximizes aggregate social utility. Externalities (2) • Social utility, S, has been defined as the sum of the factory’s and doctor’s profits. • S(q) = 20 − σ = 1 12 + + 50 − 2 . • This is maximized where q = 6. •

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We need to consider the marginal profit for an extra unit of production for the factory owner against the marginal cost of that extra unit imposed on the doctor. For example, if the factory increases q from 0 to 1, this garners the factory $7 units of profit while imposing a cost of only $2 on the doctor. • When q = 6, the extra two dollars of profit for the factory are exactly cancelled out in the social utility function by the two dollars of loss in the doctor’s profits. • At this level of production, S = 120 -93+38 = $65 -10 0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 0 2 4 6 8 10 12 Titolo del grafico Marginal profit Marginal d’s cost Social utilityunit revenue marginal revenue marginal cost cost profit Doctor’s tot utility Marginal profit Marginal d’s cost Social utility 1 20 20 13 13 7 48 7 2 55 2 40 20 14 27 13 46 6 2 59 3 60 20 15 42 18 44 5 2 62 4 80 20 16 58 22 42 4 2 64 5 100 20 17 75 25 40 3 2 65 6 120 20 18 93 27 38 2 2 65 7 140 20 19 112 28 36 1 2 64 8 160 20 20 132 28 34 0 2 62 9 180 20 21 153 27 32 -1 2 59 10 200 20 22 175 25 30 -2 2 55 11 220 20 23 198 22 28 -3 2 50 Externalities 2) Propose a government taxation scheme that will lead to socially preferred outcome … Obviously a tax of $2 per unit of production levied against the factory would lead to the socially optimal amount of production. The factory would only produce up to 6 units (after this point, the marginal profit of an extra unit turns negative) Donation of time • 5 civic -minded patrons of a public library contemplate donations of time to its annual fundraiser . Each individual i bases his or her decision of how much time to donate, x i, on the following utility function : Where namely the total amount of time given by all library patrons and is the cost of losing x i of one’s leisure time Donation of time • What is the socially optimal amount of time donated ? Determine this by summing the utility functions of five individuals , and finding the q that maximizes this function . Donation of time • What is the socially optimal amount of time donated ? Determine this by summing the utility functions of five individuals , and finding the q that maximizes this function . • First we need an expression for society’s utility, (S ). We can find this by adding up the utilities of the individuals who we will index by j 2 (1; 2; 3; 4; 5): Donation of time • We can maximize with respect to q to find the socially optimal net contribution (let’s call it q*). Because all of our individuals are identical, we can then divide this by 5 to find the socially optimal individual contribution x* i At the maximum of this function, this derivative will equal zero. We can solve this for q to find that The socially optimal individual contribution is thus Donation of time • Imagine that an individual assumes that everyone else will contribute no time. How much time will this individual donate ? Is it at the socially optimal level ? Donation of time • Imagine that an individual assumes that everyone else will contribute no time. How much time will this individual donate ? Is it at the socially optimal level ? • If some individual i believes that no one else will contribute, then he will behave as if ; his expected utility will be ;Maximizing this with respect to x i, ; x i=1 < 1.710 , the socially optimal individual contribution < 8.550, the “social” optimal level. Donation of time • Imagine that each individual assumes that the other 4 members will donate 0.8 units of time. Does this individual donate more or less time than before ? Why this ? Donation of time • Imagine that each individual assumes that the other 4 members will donate 0.8 units of time. Does this individual donate more or less time than before ? Why this ? If i assumes that the other individuals will collectively supply .8 units he will believe that ; Maximizing with respect to x i, we get this expression which equals zero where EUi is maximized ; x i=.2 Donation of time • Imagine that each individual assumes that the other 4 members will donate 0.8 units of time. Does this individual donate more or less time than before ? Why this ? The level of contribution .2 turns out to be a symmetric equilibrium , where each individual gives .2 towards the cause. This results in only 1 unit total of time donated, which is far less than the socially optimal level of 8.550 . Each individual gives only .2 , rather than the 1.710 units which would maximize the group’s welfare. The individual’s belief that the others will collectively provide .8 units is confirmed in equilibrium. Thus , this belief is “rational”. Rationality Institon Behaviour Exam Paper.

 
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Strategist For a Candidate’s Campaign Paper

Strategist For a Candidate’s Campaign Paper
You are the strategist for a candidate’s campaign–for any office, at any level.
If scholars are correct that most voters do not engage in issue voting, then:

  1. how do you craft your candidate’s message?
  2. what criteria do you use for identifying your candidate’s voters?

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Explain your reasoning. Provide examples if appropriate.

Campaigning for any type of elected office requires a sharp eye for detail in regard to what voters are looking for in a candidate. A campaign strategy should be comprehensive in its efforts to reach as many voters as possible. Yet, without a solid base of ideas from which to expand upon, the message being conveyed can easily be lost or taken out of context. In order for a campaign manager to avoid this blunder from occurring and maximize the candidate’s chances of victory, he or she must pay attention to a few basic campaigning elements before attempting to stretch the campaign to its maximum visibility. Strategist For a Candidate’s Campaign Paper. First, the campaign manager must identify the important
Still, it is vital for a candidate at any level to develop a grasp of the different groups that will decide his or her fate. As stated earlier, this dimension of the campaign process is primarily dealt with before the campaign commences. Once completed, the popular definition of the word campaign takes form.
Conveying a message to the voters in the form of speeches, advertisement, and public appearances is the primary objective of a political campaign. This lets the public know what any given candidate can offer them if elected to office. The simplest manner in which to convey whatever message is to incorporate it into a campaign theme. &quot;It is a serious mistake to assume that voters are paying close attention to your election, or any election&quot; (Shea 1996,
148). The fact is that most voters do not go out of their way to make the right voting choice. All a voter wants is a quick and simple reason to vote for a candidate. If every voter researched the possible candidates before each election, campaigning would be obsolete. The political campaign serves as a vehicle to inform voters. The best and most effective way for a candidate to do this is with a campaign theme. A campaign theme should be general in nature.
It should be an idea that a large group can grab hold of. If the theme selected is too precise, it portrays the candidate as narrow minded. Simply put, the broader a theme is, the more voters it attracts. 
Strategist For a Candidate’s Campaign Paper.
 
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Herrnson’s Concept of Political Parties Paper

Herrnson’s Concept of Political Parties Paper

  1. In your own words, explain and assess Herrnson’s concept of political parties as “enduring multilayered coalitions.”
  2. Suggest and evaluate ways a campaign strategist may apply Herrnson’s research in developing a campaign strategy.

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We propose a theory of political parties in which interest groups and activists are the key actors, and coalitions of groups develop common agendas and screen candidates for party nominations based on loyalty to their agendas. This theoretical stance contrasts with currently dominant theories, which view parties as controlled by election-minded politicians. The difference is normatively important because parties dominated by interest groups and activists are less responsive to voter preferences, even to the point of taking advantage of lapses in voter attention to politics. Our view is consistent with evidence from the formation of national parties in the 1790s, party position change on civil rights and abortion, patterns of polarization in Congress, policy design and nominations for state legislatures, Congress, and the presidency. Herrnson’s Concept of Political Parties Paper.

 
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Evaluate the Implications of the “post-truth era” for Democratic Politics Paper

Evaluate the Implications of the “post-truth era” for Democratic Politics Paper

  1. In your own words, explain the concept of “post-truth.”
  2. Evaluate the implications of the “post-truth era” for democratic politics.
  3. If you were the media consultant to a statewide, up-ballot candidate campaign–e.g., governor–in this “post-truth era,” what would be some crucial elements of your media strategy? Why?
A ‘post-truth society’ has been defined as one in which ‘“objective facts” are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief’.Footnote1 The loaded term ‘post-truth’ is used to describe a broad stream of events and attitudes frequently perceived as a threat, particularly to science and politics. For example, the distrust of science found in a post-truth society is often seen as degenerative and destructive of democracy.Footnote2 Although it is almost a ritual to refer to the fact that the term was the Oxford English Dictionaries word of the year in 2016,Footnote3 the elaborate characterisation differs of course from one author to another. Political scientist Ari-Elmeri Hyvönen understands the term post-truth politics as describing ‘a predicament in which political speech is increasingly detached from a register in which factual truths are “plain”’,Footnote4 while political theorist Saul Newman lists a number of what he considers typical traits—propagation of falsehoods, lies, misinformation, outrageous exaggeration and distortion of reality, and more.Footnote5 Typically ‘post-truth’ is something that is said to have gained terrain recently.Footnote6 Hyvönen sees in post-truth politics an erosion of shared facts and of common sources of information, which makes the situation historically unique.Footnote7 Political scientist Manuel Cervera-Marzal takes a very different stand arguing that those who actively use the term post-truth also thereby make claims that the world has entered a new era, which Cervera-Marzal finds ridiculous. It is built on the assumption that there was a time when political debates were marked by facts and when those who governed acted according to truth and were evaluated on the basis of objective facts.Footnote8 Other scholars claim, more modestly, that quite a number of post-truth traits are present in public discourses since long.Footnote9 Neurologist Sebastian Dieguez takes a somewhat more pragmatic position. Even if the situation is not absolutely new, ‘post-truth’ may be a useful notion in a particular way simply by making us understand a possible situation regarding the cognitive relation humans have with the surrounding world and with themselves, he suggests.Footnote10

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Another debate is the one around the relation between bullshit and post-truth. Evaluate the Implications of the “post-truth era” for Democratic Politics Paper. Hyvönen spends some time explaining the distinction between bullshit and post-truth, drawing heavily on the analyses of bullshit as discourses carefully chiselled out with much attention paid to every detail, in contrast to careless post-truth discourses.Footnote11 In this article, that kind of distinction is unhelpful. First, how do we know that for instance Donald Trump has not crafted his speeches more and in other ways than they appear. Second, in this study, I am less interested in the amount of time someone has spent preparing, or not spent preparing a public appearance, as I look into the effects and how they may be understood.
Post-truth has attracted much interest in academic circles lately, and many different projects have been shaped. Hyvönen aims at working on the conceptualisation of post-truth in order to make the phenomenon more visible and thus facilitating a deeper analysis leading to a broader approach to truth in political science.Footnote12 Political scientist Ignes Kalpokas has some affinity with Hyvönen in the way that post-truth is approached through conceptual history or history of ideas. The aim is to understand what is perceived as a shift towards post-truth in terms of ‘escapist romantic fantasy that masks the underlying reality of guilt’.Footnote13 Political scientist Sebastian Schindler is seeking to establish greater clarity regarding the phenomenon post-truth politics in relation to the implications this very phenomenon has for contemporary critical thinking.Footnote14 In the present study, the scope is a slightly different one. This essay focuses on post-truth politics, arguing that concentrating on political discourses as declarative fails to understand their performative character and their force.
A good example of post-truth politics is, of course, provided by President Donald Trump, who was for many years before entering politics a well-known public person and businessman. Of his way of working and making deals he observes:

I play to people‘s fantasies. People may not always think big of themselves, but they can still get very excited by those who do. That‘s why a little hyperbole never hurts. People want to believe that something is the biggest and the greatest and the most spectacular. I call it truthful hyperbole. It‘s an innocent form of exaggeration—and a very effective form of promotion.Footnote15

The key here is that Trump tells people what they want to hear, applying what he sees as slight exaggeration, as ‘truthful hyperbole’; what he says is a bit more and a bit better than the truth but also not entirely without foundation. In Trump’s ‘post-truth’ attitude, ‘objective facts’ are less important than emotions and personal beliefs. His attitude corresponds well to many of the epithets of post-truth given above.
While Trump offers a good example of post-truth politics, there is something that interests me beyond the concrete case of Donald Trump. Rather, he brings to the fore traits in political discourses more generally; they are simply more visible in the extreme and reckless use of language in post-truth politics. In post-truth politics, people do not even pretend that ‘objective facts’ are significant—there are always ‘alternative facts’—while for instance emotions and personal beliefs are valued.Footnote16 Moreover, political scientist Guiliano da Empoli argues that in this new political landscape, political agents—like the Movimento cinque stelle (Italy), the focus of his study, or Donald TrumpFootnote17—function as platforms with no political content, no programme and no vision: they are empty.Footnote18
This overt disinterest in ‘facts’ and the programmatic vacuity of content have contributed to a crisis in contemporary society. The question addressed here is how this should be understood and how it should be dealt with. This essay begins with a brief look at an important mainstream academic reaction to post-truth politics, highlighting what most seems to upset philosophers and others. This is followed by my understanding of the raison d’être and the very functioning of political discourses, indicating that much of this mainstream reaction largely misses the point. A structuring idea of the discussion is that, in certain ways, post-truth political discourses function as political discourses are supposed to function. Then, very much inspired by a short text written by philosopher Jeffrey Nealon, I launch the idea that political discourses can be characterised as performative, in the sense of transforming and creating reality, before finally examining the force of political discourse—that which makes the discourse perform. Obviously, the work of J. L. Austin plays an important role, but it should also be clear that I have no ambition to perform an exegesis of his oeuvre. Evaluate the Implications of the “post-truth era” for Democratic Politics Paper.
The performative aspect of political discourse—that is, its transformation and creation of reality—entails that it also has the potential to transform the rules and the frameworks of the discourse itself. This has far-reaching implications. To what extent is it possible or useful to exit the conventional structures and overthrow established rules when change is sought? And what is the force driving the transformation? Questions must be raised regarding the role of intention and who—if anybody—can be designated the master of the discourse. One way of doing this is to broaden the perspective of what happens in verbal exchanges. The hearer-speaker relation is fundamental, as a double-sided relation in which meaning is shaped, and the performative force is formed. This evokes serious questions about responsibility and also about human action and freedom, although, given the limitations of space, only a few can be considered here.

Post-truth Politics as Resistance to Facts and Knowledge
Swedish philosopher and member of the Swedish Academy, Åsa Wikforss, places post-truth politics in the ‘postmodern’ and general ‘post-truth’ context. In this manner, she joins a broad fellowship found both inside and outside academia reacting strongly against what is characterised as resistance to facts and reality, which in their view implies neglecting evidence and objectivity. It is, she says, important to be well-informed and have the right knowledge in terms of politics and political choices, as well as fundamental choices concerning what kind of society one prefers.Footnote19
Wikforss talks about ‘resistance to facts’—although she personally prefers ‘resistance to knowledge’—arguing that we must re-connect to facts, re-convert people to believe in evidence and base decisions on objectivity.Footnote20 What Wikforss calls ‘resistance to knowledge’ is akin to what other scholars call ‘anti-intellectualism’, including David Block who offers two examples of this phenomenon in politics. The first is leading Brexiter Michael Gove, who is reported to have urged people to stop listening to the warnings of experts regarding Brexit; the second is Bundeskanzlerin Angela Merkel, who is said to have claimed that we should trust experts less and trust common sense more.Footnote21 Making the point that people are actively discouraged from trusting experts, science and intellectually solid arguments, Block issues warnings against such anti-intellectualism.Footnote22
Post-truth thus provokes a philosophical reaction on various levels. There is, however, one trait that concerns this study more than others. Wikforss tells that more than a third (35%) of the voters in the USA’s presidential elections of 2016 did not know that Obamacare was the same thing as the Affordable Care Act. Consequently, many people who were against the former did not realise that this meant they were also against the latter.Footnote23 This can be read in two ways, and I think that Wikforss has a double message. On the one hand, it seems reasonable that people should know what they are voting for or against. If I want a particular political party to govern the country, it is of course unfortunate if I—for whatever reason—do not understand which ballot I should pick to express my desire and cast my vote according to my political preference. Certainly, one can agree with Wikforss that if voters do not understand which ballot to pick or if they are misled in this process, these are reasons to react and take measures. Philosopher Jacques Derrida is one of those who have been clear on this point: responsible decisions cannot be made without knowing what one is doing and without being conscious of what is being decided.Footnote24
There is, however, another message in Wikforss’ text: the position of the values of ‘objectivity’, ‘evidence’, ‘fact’ and ‘knowledge’ in the political process. This is much more complex. I maintain that political choices are not primarily about facts but, rather, about orientation, direction and so on. Evaluate the Implications of the “post-truth era” for Democratic Politics Paper. Derrida perceives a tension or perhaps a paradox in this context. If making decisions is simply perceived as an issue of knowledge and if making decisions is limited to following some rule, then one must conclude that this simply represents a technical mise en œuvre of the cognitive apparatus, and consequently not about responsible choices.Footnote25 In the same vein, philosopher Jean-François Lyotard argues that a political discourse is not about knowing. A good theoretical description of a problem is not enough in order to know what should be decided.Footnote26 So, although responsible decisions and choices cannot be made if one disregards available information, facts and knowledge, it is equally misleading to think that responsible political decisions can be seen as straightforward outcomes of available information, established facts and acquired knowledge. As Lyotard points out, political utterances do not reflect a vision of the world that can be true or false.Footnote27 Therefore, political discourses must be read differently.
Political Discourses
A common struggle against post-truth politics, as outlined above, is not necessarily based on one specific understanding of politics. Yet there seems to be a bottom line, so to speak: it all turns on evidence, objectivity and facts. This is, however, problematic.
If focusing on these three elements, one is inclined to miss some very important aspects of politics and the conditions for political arguments. In politics, arguments are launched in order to create effects. Consequently, they are best understood as pragmatic. The goal of a political argument is to garner support for a project. The objective is not to present a veridical report of some state of affairs; nor is it about making a self-declaration in which the speaker gives their view on a particular topic. According to social epistemologist Steve Fuller, the aim of the politician is simply to be perceived as someone with such strong convictions about their political vision that they are prepared to do whatever it takes to bring it about. This in itself attracts enough support to turn the vision into reality. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. That means that the politician indeed participates in producing the reality for which they strive.Footnote28

Political Discourses as Performative

In a slightly different vein, Nealon expresses the insight that politicians create or produce reality by their discourses. Informed by readings of Austin and Derrida, he suggests that what is ‘politically true’—or what can be called political truth—is, rather, performative, noting that ‘political truth functions not on the logic of facts’.Footnote29 The notion of political discourses as performative is the axis for the rest of this paper.
In his Harvard lectures of 1955, subsequently published as How To Do Things With Words (1962), J. L. Austin launches the idea of performatives, identifying performative utterances as utterances that do not describe or report. Thus they are simply—in Austin’s terminology—opposed to constatives, which entails that they are not true/false and that they cannot be true or false. Therefore, no argumentation is necessary or even possible. The leading principle is that the very saying of the utterance is (part of) doing.Footnote30 In other words, introducing performatives implies introducing the idea that to say something is to do something. In this fashion, Austin questions the idea that saying equals stating something.Footnote31 In this respect, performatives can be seen as freed from truth-value while having value as force.Footnote32
As Austin affirms, performatives are straightforward utterances that simply cannot possibly be true/false; rather, they do something—they perform. For instance, when ‘yes’ is uttered in a wedding ceremony, the utterance does something, it renders the utterer married. Evaluate the Implications of the “post-truth era” for Democratic Politics Paper. Neither the single phrase nor the web of utterances of which ‘yes’ is a part is a report or an account of their being married, desiring to be married or the like. Nay, the very saying of ‘yes’ does the job.Footnote33 What is central, and cannot be overstressed, is that Austin thus concludes that the utterance is not an exterior and audible sign of an interior act undertaken by the utterer.Footnote34 It works on its own, as it were. It is in this particular sense that political discourses are seen as performative. A political discourse is not (primarily) reporting something that is—or can be—true or false. The performative character of a political discourse means that it does something, it performs.

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In this way, it can be claimed that, given the performative character of political discourses, they are saying things that do not aspire to truth status as they are in a different register. It can even be claimed that political discourses have a mission to go beyond what is presently at hand. In this manner, they transform reality by saying things that are not true, but only in the sense of not being there. The very point of a political discourse is to suggest a different situation, something better than what presently is. This particular performative trait of political discourses becomes much more visible in the post-truth politics exemplified by Trump’s utterances. Everything that is otherwise called information, for instance, is questioned, and what many people call reports of facts are frequently labelled fake newsalternative facts are referred to without hesitation. There is not even an attempt to create or accept a common framework for deliberations. In a sense, this is politics drawn to its extremes. Performing is all there is.
Now, it may be said that the performative character is perhaps only seen from the outside, from the observer’s perspective. One might think that it looks different from the ‘inside’; that, to Trump and his supporters, what he says is indeed reporting and describing reality. Yet this may represent a misunderstanding regarding registers of communication. Derek Ford points out that when Trump tweets ‘FAKE NEWS!’, it has a number of implications on a register beyond describing reality or giving an account of what is. When Trump bawls in this manner, he is expressing an objection or discontent. Here, Trump is asserting his belief of what should be, Fords claims. Seen in this way, Trump’s tweet ‘FAKE NEWS’ is a performative utterance. A tweet like that is meant to organise and strengthen his side of the political fight, a function that is found in the very way the utterance is made. Hence, Ford continues, this particular usage reflects a perception of language as something more and different than a simple tool or instrument employed to transmit ideas. Consequently, Trump does not necessarily perceive this kind of utterance as something conveying a particular ideational content supposed to persuade the hearer. Not even from an inside perspective is the utterance thought of as a report that is true (or false). It appears rather to be the force of the utterance, as a performative utterance, that does the job. What it does is what counts, not whether truth is told or not.Footnote35 A good illustration of this is when Trump’s press secretary states that “‘Whether it’s a real video, the threat is real’”Footnote36 or, in other words, what is said may be untrue but what counts is the force of the utterance, what is communicated is on another level. Evaluate the Implications of the “post-truth era” for Democratic Politics Paper.
What is suggested in this paper is that post-truth politics is here, whether we like it or not. Yet, to many, post-truth politics has deeply upsetting traits. Therefore, many react strongly, and there are many endeavours to counteract the trend. Crucially, however, such efforts must not be counter-productive more broadly; they must not undermine the conditions for political discourses altogether. The suggestion here is that not only post-truth political discourses may be analysed as performative but also that this is a general trait of all political discourses, a central part of their functioning. This must be taken into account, I suggest, when understanding post-truth politics and countering its destructive aspects. If political discourses are seen as performative, a shift in focus is called for. There is no point asking, ‘Is it true?’ Rather, one should ask, ‘What happens?’Footnote37 One consequence of this is that the ‘force’ of the utterance becomes a matter of interest—the topic addressed in the following section. Evaluate the Implications of the “post-truth era” for Democratic Politics Paper.

 

 
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