Democratic Answers to Complex Questions – An Epistemic Perspective Research Article DOI:
Cite this article as: Bovens, L. & Rabinowicz, W. Synthese (2006) 150: 131. doi:10.1007/s11229-006-0005-1 Abstract
This paper addresses a problem for theories of epistemic democracy. In a decision on a complex issue which can be decomposed into several parts, a collective can use different voting procedures: Either its members vote on each sub-question and the answers that gain majority support are used as premises for the conclusion on the main issue (
premise based-procedure, pbp), or the vote is conducted on the main issue itself ( conclusion-based procedure, cbp). The two procedures can lead to different results. We investigate which of these procedures is better as a truth-tracker, assuming that there exists a true answer to be reached. On the basis of the Condorcet jury theorem, we show that the pbp is universally superior if the objective is to reach truth for the right reasons. If one instead is after truth for whatever reasons, right or wrong, there will be cases in which the cbp is more reliable, even though, for the most part, the pbp still is to be preferred. Keywords Discursive dilemma Condorcet jury theorem Judgment aggregation Voting procedures Epistemic democracy Deliberative democracy Pettit References Borland, P.J. 1989 Majority systems and the Condorcet Jury Theorem Statistician 38 181 189 Google Scholar Brennan, G. 2001 Collective coherence International Review of Law and Economics 21 197 211 CrossRef Google Scholar Chapman, B. 1998a Law, incommensurability, and conceptually sequenced argument University of Pennsylvania Law Review 146 1487 1582 Google Scholar Chapman, B. 1998b More easily done than said: Rules, reason and rational Social choice Oxford Journal of Legal Studies 18 293 329 CrossRef Google Scholar Cohen, J. 1986 An epistemic conception of democracy Ethics 97 26 38 CrossRef Google Scholar
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