December 28, 2016

Carugati @Ostrom_Workshop and Weingast on Decision-Making in the Athenian Law-Courts

Federica Carugati, Indiana University, Bloomington, Ostrom Workshop, and Department of Political Science, and School of Law, and Barry R. Weingast, Stanford University Department of Political Science, have published Rethinking Mass and Elite: Decision-Making in the Athenian Law-Courts. Here is the abstract.
In the Athenian law-courts, wealthy, educated, and powerful elites fought one another to prevail as leaders and advisors of the masses. Regulated by the masses’ ideals of a good society, elite competition pushed Athens toward stability, prosperity and cultural immortality. Or did it? This article puts pressure on the mass and elite model of Athenian litigation (M&E). According to the M&E model, litigation is a game played by elite litigants and mass audiences; elite litigants seek to win over their opponents as a means to gain honor; and the masses constitute a monolithic body with identical preferences. This model, we suggest, does not adequately explain the dynamics of law- and policy-making in the Athenian courts. Combining findings from two separate bodies of literature in classics and political science, we build a new model of Athenian litigation that modifies the M&E model in two fundamental respects: first, jurors’ preferences are meaningfully pluralistic, therefore litigants (who are not only elites) face uncertainty as to the precise position of the median juror; and second, litigants want to win, but they also have preferences over policy/legal outcomes. Our model identifies the mechanisms that enabled diverse interests to be advanced and negotiated in ways that fostered both stability and innovation in Athenian law- and policy-making.
Download the article from SSRN at the link.

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