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Democratic ReasonPolitics, Collective Intelligence, and the Rule of the Many$
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Hélène Landemore

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780691155654

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691155654.001.0001

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Epistemic Failures of Majority Rule: Real and Imagined

Epistemic Failures of Majority Rule: Real and Imagined

(p.185) Chapter Seven Epistemic Failures of Majority Rule: Real and Imagined
Democratic Reason

Hélène Landemore

Princeton University Press

This chapter addresses a series of objections to the claimed epistemic properties of majority rule and, more generally, aggregation of judgments. It first considers a general objection to the epistemic approach to voting, which supposedly does not take seriously enough the possibility that politics is about aggregation of interests, rather than aggregation of judgments. The chapter also considers the objection from Arrow's Impossibility Theorem and the doctrinal paradox (or discursive dilemma). Next, the chapter addresses the problem of informational free riding supposedly afflicting citizens in mass democracies, as well as the problem of the voting paradox (as a by-product). Finally, the chapter turns to a refutation of the objection that citizens suffer from systematic biases that are amplified at the collective level.

Keywords:   epistemic failures, majority rule, voting, Arrow's Impossibility Theorem, doctrinal paradox, informational free riding, voting paradox, systematic biases

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