When to defer to majority testimony – and when not

Analysis 66 (291):179–187 (2006)
How sensitive should you be to the testimony of others? You saw the car that caused an accident going through traffic lights on the red; or so you thought. Should you revise your belief on discovering that the majority of bystanders, equally well-equipped, equally well-positioned and equally impartial, reported that it went through on the green? Or take another case. You believe that intelligent design is the best explanation for the order of the living universe. Should you revise that belief on finding that most other people, or at least most who by your own lights are as intelligent, informed and impartial as yourself, believe that evolutionary theory offers the better account? Should you do this, in particular, if your own personal sense of where the evidence points – like your own vivid memory of the car going through on the red – remains firmly on the side of intelligent design? Assume, to take a third case, that there is a matter of fact about whether abortion is right or wrong. You believe that it is wrong, having a firm picture of it as an act on a par with murder. Should you revise that belief on discovering that among those whom you regard as equally intelligent, informed and impartial, most believe that abortion is not wrong, or at least not wrong in the way that murder is wrong? Should you do this, in particular, if your own personal sense of abortion remains unchanged; it still seems to you to be a grievous wrong? Should you put aside your own sense of things as mistaken, in the way you might put aside your imagined memory of the car going through on the red, and decide to go along with the majority view?
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1111/j.1467-8284.2006.00612.x
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history
Request removal from index
Download options
Our Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 28,798
Through your library
References found in this work BETA
A Model of Path-Dependence in Decisions Over Multiple Propositions.Christian List - 2004 - American Political Science Review 98 (3):495-513.
An Epistemic Free-Riding Problem?Christian List & Philip Pettit - 2004 - In Philip Catton & Graham Macdonald (eds.), Karl Popper: Critical Appraisals. Routledge.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA
Intersubjective Corroboration.Darrell P. Rowbottom - 2008 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 39 (1):124-132.
Local Supermajorities.Fabrizio Cariani - 2016 - Erkenntnis 81 (2):391-406.

View all 14 citations / Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Monthly downloads

Added to index


Total downloads

146 ( #32,770 of 2,177,978 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

5 ( #54,820 of 2,177,978 )

How can I increase my downloads?

My notes
Sign in to use this feature

There  are no threads in this forum
Nothing in this forum yet.

Other forums