“Optimizing political influence: a jury theorem with dynamic competence and dependence”

The purpose of this paper is to illustrate, formally, an ambiguity in the exercise of political influence. To wit: A voter might exert influence with an eye toward maximizing the probability that the political system (1) obtains the correct (e.g. just) outcome, or (2) obtains the outcome that he judges to be correct (just). And these are two very different things. A variant of Condorcet’s Jury Theorem which incorporates the effect of influence on group competence and interdependence is developed. Analytic and numerical results are obtained, the most important of which is that it is never optimal—from the point-of-view of collective accuracy—for a voter to exert influence without limit. He ought to either refrain from influencing other voters or else exert a finite amount of influence, depending on circumstance. Philosophical lessons are drawn from the model, to include a solution to Wollheim’s “paradox in the theory of democracy”.