Epistemic Democracy with Defensible Premises

Economics and Philosophy 29 (1):87--120 (2013)
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The contemporary theory of epistemic democracy often draws on the Condorcet Jury Theorem to formally justify the ‘wisdom of crowds’. But this theorem is inapplicable in its current form, since one of its premises – voter independence – is notoriously violated. This premise carries responsibility for the theorem's misleading conclusion that ‘large crowds are infallible’. We prove a more useful jury theorem: under defensible premises, ‘large crowds are fallible but better than small groups’. This theorem rehabilitates the importance of deliberation and education, which appear inessential in the classical jury framework. Our theorem is related to Ladha's (1993) seminal jury theorem for interchangeable (‘indistinguishable’) voters based on de Finetti's Theorem. We also prove a more general and simpler such jury theorem.

Author Profiles

Franz Dietrich
Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique
Kai Spiekermann
London School of Economics


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