Wednesday, July 25, 2012

New book on the Mechanisms of Collective Wisdom

Collective Wisdom
Principles and Mechanisms

Ed. by Hélène Landemore & Jon Elster

(Cambridge University Press, 2012)

424 pages


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.


1. Collective Wisdom: Old and New - Hélène Landemore
2. Prediction Markets: Trading Uncertainty for Collective Wisdom - Emile Servan-Schreiber
3. Designing Wisdom Through the Web - Gloria Origgi
4. Some Microfoundations of Collective Wisdom - Scott Page & Lu Hong
5. What has Collective Wisdom to do with Wisdom? - Daniel Andler
6. Legislation, Planning, and Deliberation - John Ferejohn
7. Epistemic Democracy in Classical Athens - Josiah Ober
8. The Optimal Design of a Constituent Assembly - Jon Elster
9. Sanior Pars and Major Pars in the Contemporary Aeropagus - Philippe Urfalino
10. Collective Wisdom: Lessons from the Theory of Judgment Aggregation - Christian List
11. Democracy Counts: Should Rulers be Numerous? - David Estlund
13. Rational Ignorance and Beyond - Gerry Mackie
14. The Myth of the Rational Voter and Political Theory - Bryan Caplan
15. Collective Wisdom and Institutional Design - Adrian Vermeule
16. Reasoning as a Social Competence - Dan Sperber & Hugo Mercier
17. Conclusion - Jon Elster

Hélène Landemore is Assistant Professor of Political Science at Yale University.

Jon Elster is Robert K. Merton Professor of the Social Sciences at Columbia University.

The book is based on the contributions to an international conference on "Collective Wisdom", which took place at the Collège de France in Paris, May 22-23, 2008. See videos from the conference here.

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