RECON Online Working Paper 2009/08

Download paper

Explicating Social Action

Arguing or Bargaining?


Erik Oddvar Eriksen (ARENA, University of Oslo)



Rational choice theorists often have a clear view of the role of norms and impartiality in collective decision making processes, but does not ascribe to them the power to explain action. Hence, the paradox: If it is only public reasons that can justify outcomes, how can private desires be the causes of the same outcomes? Reasons and norms must be given explanatory force, but this requires methodological individualism expanded to methodological interactionism. Here promises appear not merely as bargaining chips, arguing more than an aggregation device and normative questions not as irrational. Because both arguing and strategic communication exist, and it is as hard to identify the former as the latter, one should not let one take precedence over the other on theoretical grounds. The problem is not theoretical, but methodological.


Collective Bargaining Common Interest - Deliberative Democracy Discourse Functionalism - Institutionalism - Legitimacy Methodological Issues Normative Political Theory

Temporarily unavailable



All RECON online working papers