Majority Rule and the Wisdom of Crowds: the Task-Specificity of Majority Rule as a Predictive Tool

36 Pages Posted: 19 Aug 2010

Date Written: August 17, 2010

Abstract

This paper argues that majority rule not just a fair way to aggregate and adjudicate between diverse preferences, but also, and perhaps primarily, a predictive tool tapping the famous “wisdom of crowds.” The assumption is here that the crowd is wise not primarily because it is numerous but because of the cognitive diversity likely correlated with the presence of many people. The epistemic case for majority rule is built on Scott Page’s model of cognitive diversity (Page 2007) rather than on either the Condorcet Jury Theorem or the Miracle of Aggregation. On this view, the virtue of majority rule is to turn diverse individual judgments into accurate collective predictions. The paper further argues that this task-specificity of majority rule makes it a useful complement rather than a rival to deliberation, whose epistemic properties are more suited to the multi-facetted task of problem-solving. On this view, the virtue of majority rule is to turn diverse individual judgments into accurate collective predictions. The paper further argues that this task-specificity of majority rule makes it a useful complement rather than a rival to deliberation, whose epistemic properties are more suited to the multi-facetted task of problem-solving.

Keywords: Majority rule, wisdom of crowds, democracy, prediction, Condorcet Jury Theorem

Suggested Citation

Landemore, Helene E., Majority Rule and the Wisdom of Crowds: the Task-Specificity of Majority Rule as a Predictive Tool (August 17, 2010). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1660577 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1660577

Helene E. Landemore (Contact Author)

Yale University ( email )

New Haven, CT 06520
United States

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