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Democracy and Knowledge:
Innovation and Learning in Classical Athens
Josiah Ober

Book Description | Reviews
Chapter 1 [HTML] or [PDF format]


List of Illustrations xi
List of Tables xii
Preface xiii
List of Abbreviations xvii
Athenian Money, Taxes, Revenues xviii

CHAPTER ONE: Introduction: Dispersed Knowledge and Public Action 1
Theory and Practice 3
Rational Choice and Joint Action 6
Premises and Problem 12
Caveats and Method 22
The Argument and Its Contexts 28
Experts and Interests 34
Hypothesis 37

CHAPTER TWO: Assessing Athenian Performance 39
Historical Evaluation 40
Aggregate Flourishing 43
Distribution of Coinage 48
Athens versus Syracuse and Sparta 52
Citations in Greek Literature and Other Measures 53
Athens ??12: A Multiperiod Case Study 55
Democracy as an Explanatory Variable 70
Republics, Democracies, and Athenian Exceptionalism 75

CHAPTER THREE: Competition, Scale, and Varieties of Knowledge 80
Competition and Its Consequences 80
Participation and Scale 84
Social, Technical, and Latent Knowledge 90
Preferences, Parties, and Costly Information 97
Hierarchy, Democracy, and Productivity 102
Knowledge Processes as Public-Action Strategies 106

CHAPTER FOUR: Aggregation: Networks, Teams, and Experts 118
Institutional Design: Incentives, Low Cost, Sorting 118
Establishing a Naval Station, 325/4 B.C. 124
Demes and Tribes as Social Networks 134
The Council of 500: Structural Holes and Bridging Ties 142
Organizational and Individual Learning 151
Boards of Magistrates as Real Teams 156
Ostracism, Assembly, and People's Courts 160

CHAPTER FIVE: Alignment: Common Knowledge, Commitment, and Coordination 168
Alignment and Hierarchy 169
Following Leaders, Rules, and Commitments 172
Cascading and Social Equilibrium 179
A Trial for Treason, 330 B.C. 183
Common Knowledge and Publicity 190
Rational Rituals and Public Monuments 194
Architecture and Intervisibility 199
Scaling Common Knowledge 205

CHAPTER SIX: Codification: Access, Impartiality, and Transaction Costs 211
Intention and Interpretation 211
Open Entry, Fair Procedure, and Transaction Costs 214
A Law on Silver Coinage, 375/4 B.C. 220
Silver Owls, Athenian and Imitation 226
Approval, Certification, Confiscation 231
Legal Standing and Social Status 241
Rules and Rents: Historical Survey 245
Expanding Access 249
Democracy and Social Security 254
Horizons of Fairness 258

CHAPTER SEVEN: Conclusions: Government by the People 264
Knowledge in Action 264
The Democracy/Knowledge Hypothesis Revisited 268
Formality and Experimentation 270
Institutions and Ideology 272
Exceptionalism and Exemplarity 276

APPENDIX A. Aggregate Material Flourishing 281
APPENDIX B. Distribution of Coins in Hoards 285
APPENDIX C. Prominence in Classical Greek Literature 287
APPENDIX D. Impact of Constitution and Historical Experience 289
APPENDIX E. Athenian State Capacity and Democracy, 600-250 B.C. 292

Bibliography 295
Index 333

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File created: 4/21/2017

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