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Condorcet's Jury Theorem

  1. Paul Weirich

Published Online: 1 FEB 2013

DOI: 10.1002/9781444367072.wbiee038

The International Encyclopedia of Ethics

How to Cite

Weirich, P. 2013. Condorcet's Jury Theorem. The International Encyclopedia of Ethics. .

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 1 FEB 2013

Abstract

A society often needs answers to questions, for example questions about a defendant's guilt. Should a society rely on an individual or a group's judgment? Condorcet's jury theorem states that if a group is polled about some proposition, then, given certain assumptions, the majority's opinion is more responsive to the truth than is an individual's opinion. If a proposition is true, a majority will more likely than an individual judge that it is true. The theorem argues for using a jury rather than a judge to decide whether a defendant is guilty (see Punishment), and in general argues for using groups rather than individuals to settle social issues, for example questions about provision of public goods (see Public Goods).

Keywords:

  • government, politics, and law;
  • decision making;
  • punishment