David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
Learn more about PhilPapers
Journal of Political Philosophy 12 (1):41–64 (2004)
ALTHOUGH majority rule finds ready acceptance whenever groups make decisions, there are surprisingly few philosophically interesting arguments in support of it.1 Jeremy Waldron’s The Dignity of Legislation contains the most interesting recent defense of majority rule. Waldron combines his own argument from respect with May’s influential characterization of majority rule, tying both to a reinterpretation of a well-known passage from Locke’s Second Treatise (“the body moves into the direction determined by the majority of forces”). Despite its impressive resourcefulness, Waldron’s defense is deficient, and one goal of this essay is to show how. Yet our main concern is not to criticize Waldron, but to demonstrate general deficiencies of arguments for majority rule and to suggest a strategy for a more adequate and more complete defense. Such arguments tend to have one of two weaknesses: Either they assume that collective decisionmaking is done in terms of ranking options and thus neglect both aggregation methods using more information than the relative standing of options in rankings (such as so-called positional methods) and rules that are not aggregation methods at all (such as fair-division procedures); or they also constitute arguments for other decision rules. In the first case, the argument is too narrow, in the second it is too broad. The narrowness problem is bigger than stated so far because arguments for majority rule tend to assume not only that decisions are made by ranking options, but also that only two options are to be ranked. Both problems arise for Waldron’s defense and leave it incomplete. Yet such incompleteness also characterizes the state of the art in arguing for majority rule. So in addition to..
|Keywords||No keywords specified (fix it)|
|Categories||categorize this paper)|
|Through your library||Configure|
Similar books and articles
Ben Saunders (2010). Democracy, Political Equality, and Majority Rule. Ethics 121 (1):148-177.
Shane J. Ralston (2010). Dewey's Theory of Moral (and Political) Deliberation Unfiltered. Education and Culture 26 (1):pp. 23-43.
Luba Sapir (1998). The Optimality of the Expert and Majority Rules Under Exponentially Distributed Competence. Theory and Decision 45 (1):19-36.
Jacob Paroush (1997). Order Relations Among Efficient Decision Rules. Theory and Decision 43 (3):209-218.
Jitendra Nath Sarker (2006). Majority Rule and Minority Rights. The Proceedings of the Twenty-First World Congress of Philosophy 2:169-173.
Mathias Risse (2009). On the Philosophy of Group Decision Methods II: Alternatives to Majority Rule. Philosophy Compass 4 (5):803-812.
Robert E. Goodin & Christian List (2006). A Conditional Defense of Plurality Rule: Generalizing May's Theorem in a Restricted Informational Environment. American Journal of Political Science 50 (4):940-949.
Mathias Risse (2009). On the Philosophy of Group Decision Methods I: The Nonobviousness of Majority Rule. Philosophy Compass 4 (5):793-802.
Added to index2009-01-28
Total downloads20 ( #70,333 of 1,004,688 )
Recent downloads (6 months)1 ( #64,743 of 1,004,688 )
How can I increase my downloads?