Plural Voting for the Twenty-First Century

Philosophical Quarterly 68 (271):286-306 (2018)
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Recent political developments cast doubt on the wisdom of democratic decision-making. Brexit, the Colombian people's (initial) rejection of peace with the FARC, and the election of Donald Trump suggest that the time is right to explore alternatives to democracy. In this essay, I describe and defend the epistocratic system of government which is, given current theoretical and empirical knowledge, most likely to produce optimal political outcomes—or at least better outcomes than democracy produces. To wit, we should expand the suffrage as wide as possible and weight citizens’ votes in accordance with their competence. As it turns out, the optimal system is closely related to J. S. Mill's plural voting proposal. I also explain how voters’ competences can be precisely determined, without reference to an objective standard of correctness and without generating invidious comparisons between voters.

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Thomas Mulligan
Georgetown University


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