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Rational choice theory is better understood as a set of theories that investigate methods in which rational decision makers can act in ways that may even seem irrational yet create and effect that has a positive outcome for many. There are various and many interpretations to rational choice theory that can either be mathematical or not and either rely upon empirical data or don't. As it is used in political analysis it has been used to study models of voting, bargaining, various institutions, social norms and collective actions.

To fully understand rational choice theory it is good to have a basic understanding of game theory which is used to predict and explain behavior. An example of game theory in regards to politics is in democratic peace which can be achieved through free and open debates. These debates will send a clear message to other states, particular those non democratic even if the debate itself is seemingly irrational it is not what is being debated it is that there is an openness to that debate that shows that the democratic state is willing to make concessions. Thus, a non democratic state can make strategies in dealing with a democratic state based on the notion that any concessions made by the democratic state will be honored. On the other hand, a non democratic state is not so easily understood in these terms since they are far less open about their political strategies and because of this a democratic state will be far less willing to make concessions.

Rational choice theory as used in political analysis has its roots in positive analysis, (the way things are) but is more times than not used for normative analysis, (the way things should be), in deciding policy or changes of law or constitutional law. In political science the use of rational choice theory often begins with the foundation of the state itself. In most of these studies it has focused on the democratic process of forming a government and creating a constitution. Once this foundation has been laid the study then focuses on the problems inherent in hiring those agents who are responsible for carrying out the rules set forth by the constitution. This however, remains in the realm of theory and study where in practice the rational choice theory has mostly limited itself to voting systems. It should be noted that a general preference from a collective can not be known even from seemingly mild standards. In Arrows impossibility theorem which is itself an economic generalization of the voting paradox, it is suggested that voters will not expect any kind of collective consistency will lead to the same consistency found in individual consistency. Voters, even if they belong to some collective, will not trust that collective decisions will lead to their individual benefit.

These rational choice theories have delved extensively into the studies of voting systems, the legislative process, bureaucracies, political economy or rent seeking, and political market failure. The most evident failings of rational choice theory lie in its own failure to produce any empirical data that can be used scientifically and the effect these theories have had on the general populace or voters is more found in the apathy readily apparent than any quantitative good. Political science in many ways has become an oxymoron as it is neither political nor scientific and the only positive effect rational choice theory has had is for those who get paid studying it.

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Q: Explain the efficacy of rational choice theory in the analysis of politics?
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