Semantron 23 Summer 2023


information that can limit the negative effects of the use of heuristics. Furthermore, competition plays a key role in limiting the significance of these adverse findings. Legislation and policy are implemented on a cross regional basis, and interaction between departments can offer points of contention, with aggregation negating the effects of partisanship. Further, it could be argued that partisanship is to some extent useful in ensuring a conflict of preference between departments, in turn ensuring some balanced conclusion is reached, rather than a small-scale localized dispute, which can be dominated by individuals. Overall, therefore, the use of heuristics throughout the democratic process has both limitational and expansionary qualities in affecting the ability of the legislative outcomes to reflect voter preferences. The limits of approximation pose the largest issue to the most politically involved, in both the elites, for whom it leads to a partisanship and orientation towards favouring the wealthiest, and the interested, for whom it limits their ability to maximize preferences, particularly on a local level. However, this is far overshadowed by the expansion of political inclusivity beyond those who have the necessary means or desire to extensively pursue it, and offers a representative democracy that can broadly reflect the interest of the populus without requiring their interest or knowledge on any major issues. Similarly, these limiting factors have limitations of their own; geographic aggregation offers a limit to partisanship, while geographic proximity (with aggregation) offers a limit to the overrepresentation of the wealthy. On balance, it seems that the role of heuristics in politics has proved to be an overwhelmingly positive one, albeit with issues, although luckily ones that limited by both an acceptance of their prevalence, and organizational properties through which they can be quashed.


On reflection, the use of heuristics in the investigated facets of modern-day society is not detrimental. Notably, the above arguments demonstrate both the immense positive benefits to public policy and to the functioning of a representative democracy. However, they fail to recognize the enormous uses that the efficiency of heuristics affords people on a day-to-day basis. Quick, easy decisions, even if often rough and occasionally inaccurate, are far preferable to an exhaustive study, which would often fundamentally be a waste of time. An in-depth analysis of which brand of cornflakes to purchase would be of benefit to no one, and certainly the effort required for the use of System 2 for inconsequential functions would lead to extensive ego depletion and burnout. To that end, they offer a bedrock of human cognition, though they are undervalued through an excessive focus on their flaws, and not enough emphasis placed upon their extensive uses in facilitating basic functions. Evidently, there are major flaws to the use of heuristics, ranging from legislatorial unwarranted partisanship to failure of competition within markets. However, it should be noted that these are easy to overstate. The world, is, in almost every measure, improving, 20 and it can often be all too simple to overplay the significance of drawbacks, ironically, as a result of the heuristic tendency to loss aversion. Instead, the immense value of heuristics to individuals and policymakers alike should be celebrated, far beyond just their basic effort-minimizing functions. Rather, their aforementioned ability to completely reorientate preferences, and fundamentally change outcomes without manipulating any

20 Müller, J. (2018). Is the world getting better or worse? Financial Times.


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