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New Edited Volume on Epistemic Democracy

Cambridge University Press has released Collective Wisdom: Principles and Mechanisms. This is an interdisciplinary collection of essays, edited by Hélène Landemore and Jan Elster.

Most of the essays published in this volume were first presented in a two-day colloquium under the same title of Collective Wisdom (La Sagesse Collective), hostedby Collège de France on May 22-23, 2008.

Videos from the colloquium presentations and discussions are available here.


James Madison wrote, “Had every Athenian citizen been a Socrates, every Athenian assembly would still have been a mob.” The contributors to this volume discuss and for the most part challenge this claim by considering conditions under which many minds can be wiser than one. With backgrounds in economics, cognitive science, political science, law, and history, the authors consider information markets, the Internet, jury debates, democratic deliberation, and the use of diversity as mechanisms for improving collective decisions. At the same time, they consider voter irrationality and paradoxes of aggregation as possibly undermining the wisdom of groups. Implicitly or explicitly, the volume also offers guidance and warnings to institutional designers.

Table of Contents:

1.Collective wisdom: old and new, Hélène Landemore [PDF]

2. Prediction markets: trading uncertainty for collective wisdom, by Emile Servan-Schreiber [draft PDF]

3. Designing wisdom through the web: the passion of ranking, by Gloria Origgi [a version of this essay was published at books&Ideas]

4. Some microfoundations of collective wisdom, by Scott Page and Lu Hong [PDF]

5. What has collective wisdom to do with wisdom?, by Daniel Andler [pre-­final draft PDF]

6. Legislation, planning, and deliberation, by John Ferejohn [published in Raison Publique]

7. Epistemic democracy in classical Athens: sophistication, diversity, and innovation, by Josiah Ober [published in Raison Publique]

8. The optimal design of a constituent assembly, by Jon Elster [draft PDF]

9. Sanior pars and major pars in the contemporary aeropagus: medicine evaluation committees in France and the United States, by Philippe Urfalino

10. Collective wisdom: lessons from the theory of judgment aggregation, by Christian List [PDF]

11. Democracy counts: should rulers be numerous?, by David Estlund [published in Raison Publique]

12. Democratic reason: the mechanisms of collective intelligence in politics, by Hélène Landemore [SSRN]

13. Rational ignorance and beyond, by Gerry Mackie [PDF]

14. The myth of the rational voter and political theory, by Bryan Caplan [DOC]

15. Collective wisdom and institutional design, by Adrian Vermeule [SSRN]

16. Reasoning as a social competence, by Dan Sperber and Hugo Mercier [SSRN]

17. Conclusion, Jon Elster

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