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The Premises of Condorcet's Jury Theorem Are Not Simultaneously Justified


Condorcet's famous jury theorem reaches an optimistic conclusion on the correctness of majority decisions, based on two controversial premises about voters: they are competent and vote independently, in a technical sense. I carefully analyse these premises and show that: (i) whether a premise is justified depends on the notion of probability considered and (ii) none of the notions renders both premises simultaneously justified. Under the perhaps most interesting notions, the independence assumption should be weakened.

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R. Ben-Yashar and J. Paroush . 2000. “A Nonasymptotic Condorcet Jury Theorem.” Social Choice and Welfare 17: 189–99.

D. Berend and J. Paroush . 1998. “When Is Condorcet's Jury Theorem Valid?Social Choice and Welfare 15: 481–8.

P. J. Boland 1989. “Majority Systems and the Condorcet Jury Theorem.” Statistician 38: 181–9.

P. J. Boland , F. Proschan , and Y. L. Tong . 1989. “Modelling Dependence in Simple and Indirect Majority Systems.” Journal of Applied Probability 26: 81–8.

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F. Dietrich and C. List . 2004. “A Model of Jury Decisions Where All Judges Have the Same Evidence.” Synthese 142: 175202.

D. Estlund 1994. “Opinion Leaders, Independence, and Condorcet's Jury Theorem.” Theory and Decision 36(2): 131–62.

T. Feddersen and W. Pesendorfer . 1997. “Voting Behavior and Information Aggregation in Elections with Private Information.” Econometrica 65(5): 1029–58.

B. Grofman , G. Owen , and S. L. Feld . 1983. “Thirteen Theorems in Search of the Truth.” Theory and Decision 15: 261–78.

K. K. Ladha 1992. “The Condorcet Jury Theorem, Free Speech, and Correlated Votes.” American Journal of Political Science 36: 617–34.

K. K. Ladha 1993. “Condorcet's Jury Theorem in Light of De Finetti's Theorem.” Social Choice and Welfare 10: 6985.

K. K. Ladha 1995. “Information Pooling Through Majority-rule Voting: Condorcet's Jury Theorem with Correlated Votes.” Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization 26: 353–72.

C. List and R. E. Goodin . 2001. “Epistemic Democracy: Generalizing the Condorcet Jury Theorem.” Journal of Political Philosophy 9: 277306.

S. Nitzan and J. Paroush . 1984. “The Significance of Independent Decisions in Uncertain Dichotomous Choice Situations.” Theory and Decision 17: 4760.

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  • ISSN: 1742-3600
  • EISSN: 1750-0117
  • URL: /core/journals/episteme
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