Representation in models of epistemic democracy

Episteme 17 (4):498-518 (2020)
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Abstract

Epistemic justifications for democracy have been offered in terms of two different aspects of decision-making: voting and deliberation, or ‘votes’ and ‘talk.’ The Condorcet Jury Theorem is appealed to as a justification in terms votes, and the Hong-Page “Diversity Trumps Ability” result is appealed to as a justification in terms of deliberation. Both of these, however, are most plausibly construed as models of direct democracy, with full and direct participation across the population. In this paper, we explore how these results hold up if we vary the model so as to reflect the more familiar democratic structure of a representative hierarchy. We first recount extant analytic work that shows that representation inevitably weakens the voting results of the Condorcet Jury Theorem, but we question the ability of that result to shine light on real representative systems. We then show that, when we move from votes to talk, as modeled in Hong-Page, representation holds its own and even has a slight edge.

Author Profiles

Patrick Grim
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
Daniel J. Singer
University of Pennsylvania
William J. Berger
University of Pennsylvania

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