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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


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).


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