How to reach legitimate decisions when the procedure is controversial


Imagine a group that faces a decision problem but does not agree on which decision procedure is appropriate. In that case, can a decision be reached that respects the procedural concerns of the group? There is a sense in which legitimate decisions are possible even if people disagree on which procedure to use. I propose to decide in favour of an option which maximizes the number of persons whose judged-right procedure happens to entail this decision given the profile. This decision rule is based not only on a profile in the standard sense, but in addition on a profile of judged-right procedures. To justify this decision rule, I present a set of simple axioms leading to it as the only solution.

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Correspondence to Franz Dietrich.

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I wish to express my thanks to various people, including in particular Luc Bovens, Christian List, Boris Rotenberg, Christoph Schmidt-Petri and Paul Thorn. I also thank the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, the Federal Ministry of Education and Research, and the Program for the Investment in the Future (ZIP) of the German Government, for supporting this research. I have presented this paper at the Public Choice Annual Meeting 2003 (Nashville, Tennessee, USA). Web: www.uni-konstanz. de/ppm/Dietrich.

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Dietrich, F. How to reach legitimate decisions when the procedure is controversial. Soc Choice Welfare 24, 363–393 (2005).

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  • Economic Theory
  • Decision Rule
  • Decision Problem
  • Decision Procedure
  • Standard Sense