Felix Várdy
Haas School of Business



(Friday, 4th June 2010)

Title : Mixed motives and the Condorcet Jury Theorem

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On the basis of a new paper (co-authored with John Morgan), I will be discussing two of the fundamental questions in voting theory, namely, the Paradox of Voting and the Condorcet Jury Theorem, and discuss how the two relate to each other.

The Paradox of Voting asks why people bother to vote at all in large elections, even though the probability of affecting the election outcome is negligibly small. The Condorcet Jury Theorem asks whether elections are a good mechanism for aggregating dispersed private information, thereby ensuring a better collective decision. I will argue that the most convincing answer to the former has important implications for the latter: If voters care not only about the outcome of an election but also about how they vote, then elections as a means of taking collective decisions may perform no better than a coin flip.

Bibliographical references :

John Morgan and Felix Várdy, "Do the Right Thing? Mixed Motives and the Condorcet Jury Theorem", April 2010

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Timothy Feddersen and Wolfgang Pesendorfer (1997), "Voting Behavior and Information Aggregation in Elections With Private Information", Source: Econometrica, Vol. 65, No. 5, pp. 1029-1058
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2171878

Brennan, Geoffrey and James Buchanan (1984), "Voter Choice: Evaluating Political Alternatives." American Behavioral Scientist, 28, 2, 185-201.