Essay on The Principal-Agent Model of Representation

Essay on The Principal-Agent Model of Representation

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While the Principal-Agent model of representation has endured rigorous testing over hundreds of years it and has taken on various incarnations it still shows signs that it is an ineffective system. The detrimental problem with the limitations of this model is not that it is flawed in itself but that it has adverse effects on the public some of which are explored in the writings of Geoffrey Brennan, Alan Hamlin, and Melissa Williams. In this study several other models will be examined but only to use as reference for a more favorable model that addresses many of the problems of the principal-agent model. While several authors try to dispute the potentiality of direct democracy but the contrary will be argued here as it has the possibility to reshape the idea of representation as well as how policy is determined.

The problems within the Principal-Agent model are numerous and detrimental to the functionality of the system when a cost/benefit analysis is applied to the Principal actor (i.e. the public). While Geoffrey Brennan and Alan Hamlin see the principal-agent model as a sort of least worst system that, while flawed, is still mendable while still maintaining it's central characteristics. One of the main criticisms against the Principal-Agent model is concerning a question that has been asked for almost as long as representative government: Does the representative make decisions that his/her constituency wants or do they do what is in their “interest”? Edmund Burke, in his famous speech to the Electors of Bristol, remarked that a representative's “mature judgment” and “enlightened conscience” allows him/her to choose what is in the best interest of their constituency. This form of thinking is necessarily implied in ...


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...ill fitting to a system which carries the name “Democracy”.

The Principal-Agent model is either regarded as a system which is the most practical or as the best system that can realistically exist, both assuming that a simpler, more direct system is unfeasible. To realize the limitations of the Principal-Agent system is to understand the flaws that render the model as destructive to the institution of democracy that can be mended in due time. While examining the essential problems of the Principal-Agent modal it is clear that the Agent actor is the cause of many of the disabilities that afflict this model by perpetuating a false sense of representation. It becomes fully apparent that this model cannot continue in it's current form without causing further harm to those that lack proper representation or to those that yearn for more equitable representation.

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