The Trial of Socrates

Posted: 23 Sep 2008

See all articles by Bryan C. McCannon

Bryan C. McCannon

West Virginia University - College of Business & Economics

Date Written: September 22, 2008


A model Socrates' trial is presented. Two important features of the trial is, first, both the prosecutor and the defendant propose sanctions and, second, a jury takes a simple majority vote over the two proposals. This is shown to have good properties. First, a median-juror result is derived. This sanction is a Condorcet Winner among all possible sanctions. Second, the imposed sanction responds to both the harm of the act and the uncertainty of guilt. Third, under mild conditions, the expected sanction that arises should deter resulting in fewer crimes being committed.

Keywords: crime, deterrence, jury decisionmaking, median juror, sanction, Socrates

JEL Classification: K4, N4

Suggested Citation

McCannon, Bryan C., The Trial of Socrates (September 22, 2008). Available at SSRN:

Bryan C. McCannon (Contact Author)

West Virginia University - College of Business & Economics ( email )

P.O. Box 6025
Morgantown, WV 26506
United States

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