Monthly Archives: June 2009

Condorcet’s Jury Theorem as an Argument against Mass Democracy

Ok, if the mathematics discussed in my last post are right, here’s the upshot:

Condorcet’s Jury Theorem (in its original formulation) says that in an election between A and B (where A  is the right choice and B is the bad choice), for an electorate in which each voter has an independent probability p>.5 of voting for A (the right choice), then as the size of electorate increases, the probability that the electorate will elect A (the right choice) approaches 1. Even for a low value of p, such as p=.51, the probability that the electorate will choose A approaches 1 rather quickly. For instance, with 10,001 voters, the electorate already has about a 99% chance of picking A. read more...

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Condorcet Jury Theorem Mathematics Help

If the conditions of the Condorcet Jury Theorem hold, then every additional jurist/voter adds some marginal amount of accuracy to the jury as a whole.  However, this jury experiences diminishing marginal returns.  If every juror has a 51% chance of being accurate, then the jury of 101 members has about a 57% chance of being accurate, a jury of 501 members has a 67% chance of being accurate, a jury of 1001 members has a 73% chance of being accurate, a jury of 5001 members has 92% chance of being accurate, and a jury of 10,000 members has a 99.99% chance of being accurate.I’d like to know what the marginal value (in terms of her contribution to accuracy of the jury) of the Nth voter is when N is rather large. read more...

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Lectureship in Political Theory at Manchester

Lectureship in Politics (Political Theory) School of Social Sciences Politics
Closing date: 07/07/2009
Reference: HUM/90779

Applications are invited for the above continuing lectureship in Politics, specializing in Political Theory, tenable from 1 September 2009. The successful candidate will join the Politics discipline area and be attached to the Manchester Centre for Political Theory (MANCEPT).We are looking for demonstrable evidence or potential evidence of research excellence in Politics. Applicants must have, or be about to complete, a relevant PhD and have research and teaching interests in the core areas of contemporary analytic political theory including theories of justice (including global justice), equality, rights and responsibility. Applicants must have experience of providing high quality teaching at undergraduate and/or postgraduate level and will teach undergraduate and postgraduate modules in Political Theory, supervise dissertations and make appropriate teaching contributions across Politics, as required. read more...

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Journal of Moral Philosophy 6(3) (2009)

An International Journal of Moral, Political, and Legal Philosophy

(ISSN 1740-4681)

Volume 6, Number 3 (2009)


Alex Friedman, ‘Intransitive Ethics’, pp. 277-97

David Lefkowitz, ‘Partiality and Weighing Harm to Non-Combatants’, pp. 298-316

Gerald Lang, ‘Luck Egalitarianism, Permissible Inequalities, and Moral Hazard’, pp. 317-38

Heath White, ‘Fitting Attitudes, Wrong Kinds of Reasons, and Mind-Independent Goodness’, pp. 339-64

Leo Zaibert, ‘The Paradox of Forgiveness’, pp. 365-93


Robert Stern, ‘The Autonomy of Morality and the Morality of Autonomy’, pp. 395-415 read more...

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Fair Trade Bio (technology)


I’m soliciting feedback on a draft paper on a new way of getting pharmaceutical and biotech companies to extend access on essential drugs and technologies to the poor. I’m also keen to solicit references to other new (or working) papers on pharmaceutical justice.

Here is the abstract:

Fair Trade Bio

Most of the world’s health problems afflict poor countries and their poorest inhabitants. One reason for this is that the poor cannot access many of the existing drugs and technologies they need. Another reason is that little of the research and development done on new drugs and technologies benefits the poor. In light of these facts, several authors argue that there is reason to restructure the incentives pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies to encourage them to target their technologies to the poor. This paper defends a package of Fair Trade and Investment strategies that may have this effect. The idea is to rate pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies based on how their policies impact poor peoples’ access to essential drugs and technologies. The best companies, in a given year, will then be Fair Trade certified and be allowed to use a Fair Trade label on their products. Highly rated companies then have an incentive to use the label to garner a larger share of the market as those engaged in trade and investment often prefer to purchase Fair Trade goods and invest in Fair Trade companies. If even a small percentage of consumers or doctors would prefer Fair Trade products, the incentive to use this label could be substantial. And, socially responsible investment companies could include in their portfolio Fair Trade certified companies. Finally, having a Fair Trade certification system for pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies would open the door to all kinds of fruitful social activism including boycotts of poorly rated companies, lobbying of insurance companies to include Fair Trade products in their formularies, and so forth. Because, for instance, pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies rely, to a large extent, on university research and development, universities might make it a condition of the sale of their licenses that any companies holding their technologies must abide by Fair Trade standards. Of course, the Fair Trade proposal this paper defends will not solve all of the poor’s health problems, but it might have a significant impact. read more...

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Distributive Justice in the Abstract and Concrete

In talking with people about questions of distributive justice, one often encounters a peculiar sort of conflict or tension. It’s not just that different people hold different views on the question. Rather, each individual person seems somehow to be pulled in a number of different directions.

In an exciting new paper in Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, Christopher Freiman and Shaun Nichols report an experimental study that helps to shed light on this sort of conflict. Subjects were randomly assigned either to receive an ‘abstract’ question or a ‘concrete’ question. read more...

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