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Term coined by W. H. Riker in 1986 to denote the art and science of political manipulation. Intrigued that the root of heresy is from the Greek word meaning ‘to find out’, Riker coined ‘heresthetics’, and later dropped the final ‘s’. The coinage both parallels ‘aesthetics’ and correctly reflects the Greek middle voice for the sense ‘to find out for oneself’. Riker mostly had in mind manipulation to increase or diminish the number of issue dimensions in politics. If the number of dimensions is two or more, the median voter theorem does not apply, and cycles in majority rule are possible. Therefore, politics may lead to surprising outcomes. Herestheticians are politicians who can glimpse such possibilities and perhaps achieve such an outcome. Riker and his followers have claimed the title for a number of politicians, including (in the USA) Gouverneur Morris and Abraham Lincoln; (in New Zealand) ‘King Dick’ Seddon; and (in the UK) Sir Robert Peel and David Lloyd George. Lloyd George had a motto over his bed from the Book of Job, ‘There is a path which no fowl knoweth and which the eye of the vulture hath not seen’.

Subjects: Politics.

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