Historical Social Research

Simon Scheller: When Do Groups Get It Right? – On the Epistemic Performance of Voting and Deliberation. [Abstract]

This paper examines the claim that democratic decision making is epistemically valuable. Focussing on communication and voting, circumstances are identified under which groups are able to reliably identify the ‘correct alternative.’ Employing formal models from social epistemology, group performance under varying conditions in a simple epistemic task is scrutinized. Simulation results show that larger majority requirements can favour the veto power of closed-minded individuals, but can also increase precision in well-functioning groups. Reasonable scepticism against other people's opinions can provide a useful impediment to overly quick convergence onto a false consensus when independent information acquisition is possible.

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