On Legal Interpretations of the Condorcet Jury Theorem

Posted: 22 Mar 2002

See all articles by Paul H. Edelman

Paul H. Edelman

Vanderbilt University - Law School

Abstract

There has been a spate of interest in the application of the Condorcet Jury Theorem to issues in the law. This theorem holds that a majority vote among a suitably large body of voters, all of whom are more likely than not to vote correctly, will almost surely result in the correct outcome. Its uses have ranged from estimating the correct size of juries to justifying the voting of creditors in Chapter 11 reorganizations. While the mathematics is unassailable, the legal interpretation of the conclusion is dependent on the model of probability one uses when invoking the assumption that the voters are "more likely than not to vote correctly." In this paper I show how different probabilistic models lead to different interpretations of the results. Establishing which is the appropriate model has normative implications as well. This analysis is then employed in critiquing work of Levmore and Kornhauser and Sager.

Suggested Citation

Edelman, Paul H., On Legal Interpretations of the Condorcet Jury Theorem. Journal of Legal of Studies, Vol. 31, No. 2, Part 1. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=302186

Paul H. Edelman (Contact Author)

Vanderbilt University - Law School ( email )

131 21st Avenue South
Nashville, TN 37203-1181
United States
615-322-0990 (Phone)
615-322-6631 (Fax)

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