Epistemic Aspects of Representative Government

European Political Science Review 4 (3):303--325 (2012)
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Abstract

The Federalist, justifying the Electoral College to elect the president, claimed that a small group of more informed individuals would make a better decision than the general mass. But the Condorcet Jury Theorem tells us that the more independent, better-than-random voters there are, the more likely it will be that the majority among them will be correct. The question thus arises as to how much better, on average, members of the smaller group would have to be to compensate for the epistemic costs of making decisions on the basis of that many fewer votes. This question is explored in the contexts of referendum democracy, delegate-style representative democracy, and trustee-style representative democracy.

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Author Profiles

Kai Spiekermann
London School of Economics
Robert Goodin
Australian National University

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