Collective Wisdom and Institutional Design
31 Pages Posted: 26 Aug 2008 Last revised: 5 Sep 2008
Date Written: August 26, 2008
What is collective wisdom, and how can institutions be designed to generate and exploit it? This essay argues for a reductionist conception of collective wisdom as collective epistemic accuracy, and cashes out that conception at the level of institutional design. Assuming that the social goal is to maximize the epistemic quality of the laws, I argue for a shift of constitutional lawmaking authority from courts to Congress and the executive, for the appointment of nonlawyers to the Supreme Court, and for an expansion of Congress' membership. I also outline the trade offs between epistemic and nonepistemic values, such as the costs of decision making, the aggregation of preferences, and the perceived legitimacy of the legal system.
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