Nairobi Law Monthly - - Review -

an abil­ity to make such choice. Cu­ri­ously how­ever, the most im­por­tant fac­tor in de­ter­min­ing clar­ity of choice to Mills, it ap­pears, was en­vi­ron­ment. Mod­ern de­lib­er­a­tive democ­racy, as al­ready ex­pressed, con­sid­ers fac­tors far be­yond the en­vi­ron­ment, fac­tors which ought to be fully demon­strated. In con­trast, the so­cial choice the­ory, dis­putes the no­tion that there can ex­ist a ra­tio­nal choice.

In what, on keen ob­ser­va­tion, can be con­strued to be an af­fir­ma­tion of ra­tio­nal choice and de­lib­er­a­tive democ­racy there­fore, Ni­co­las de Con­dorcet (a French­man widely con­sid­ered to be the father of the mod­ern so­cial choice the­ory) presents the Con­dorcet’s Jury The­o­rem, where he ob­serves that:

“…if each mem­ber of a jury has an equal and in­de­pen­dent chance bet­ter than ran­dom, but worse than per­fect, of mak­ing a cor­rect judg­ment on whether a de­fen­dant is guilty, the ma­jor­ity of jurors is more likely to be cor­rect than each in­di­vid­ual ju­ror, and the prob­a­bil­ity of a cor­rect ma­jor­ity judg­ment ap­proaches 1 as jury size in­creases... un­der cer­tain con­di­tions, ma­jor­ity rule is good at ‘track­ing the truth'…”

From this ar­gu­ment, while so­cial the­o­rists ar­gue that there can never ex­ist a ra­tio­nal choice, Ni­co­las de Con­dorcet is say­ing that there can, in fact, ex­ist a “bet­ter choice.” Such “bet­ter choice” can be grad­u­ally im­proved to­wards “the best choice” (i.e. ra­tio­nal­ity) with the in­crease of the num­ber of ir­ra­tional per­sons mak­ing a de­ci­sion on the same mat­ter. Per de Con­dorcet's ar­gu­ment and, in­deed, the en­tire so­cial choice the­ory, man is gen­er­ally self­ish and there­fore ir­ra­tional. How­ever, this ir­ra­tional­ity is sig­nif­i­cantly di­min­ished when two per­sons hav­ing dif­fer­ent ir­ra­tional bi­ases make a choice on the same sub­ject mat­ter. The end re­sult of th­ese two peo­ple vot­ing is not an ideal choice (as the votes cast are not based on ra­tio­nal con­sid­er­a­tions), but rather, a bet­ter choice which is sim­ply the re­sult that two sim­i­lar ir­ra­tional bi­ases will hardly fuse to give life to gen­er­ally agreed upon yet ir­ra­tional choice. Con­sider this:

If Per­son X (a leader with a proven track record) is con­test­ing an elec­tion in which there are only two vot­ers, per­sons Y and Z, so­cial choice pre­dicts that nei­ther of th­ese two vot­ers will cast a vote in­formed by the per­son X's good lead­er­ship qual­i­ties and in the very rare case that such a vote is cast, only one voter will cast such a vote. When vot­ing there­fore, voter Y will vote for per­son X per­haps be­cause per­son X “has been my friend for a long time.” Per­son Z in the other hand will vote against per­son X per­haps be­cause, “X is not from my tribe.” At the end of the day, when the votes are counted, the ideal sit­u­a­tion of hav­ing “a leader with a proven track record” will not be achieved.

Not to be sad, how­ever, since the votes cast can­cel out, a re-run may be re­quired in which X may ac­tu­ally win or “we would rather stay with­out a leader.” Con­ve­niently, how­ever, both vot­ers cast­ing bi­ased ir­ra­tional votes may ac­tu­ally just vote in a good leader in per­son X. It wouldn't mat­ter there­fore whether Y voted for X be­cause X “has been my friend for a long time” while Z, a young lady, voted for X be­cause he is “hot.” Both would have voted in per­son X. How­ever, should per­son X ac­tu­ally be a very bad per­son and the se­cond vot­ing anal­ogy car­ries the day, the end re­sult will be the worst pos­si­ble sce­nario of hav­ing a very bad leader in place. Such a con­clu­sion is how­ever sig­nif­i­cantly re­duced be­cause of the sim­ple fac­tor that hardly will a choice of such grav­ity be the sole pre­rog­a­tive of two per­sons and even if there was an even num­ber of per­sons cast­ing the votes, a “col­lu­sion of bi­ases” is vir­tu­ally im­pos­si­ble (es­pe­cially in a na­tional sit­u­a­tion with mil­lions of vot­ers).


When ar­gu­ing a case for de­lib­er­a­tive democ­racy based on de Con­dorcet's ar­gu­ment on so­cial choice, it can be ar­gued that the chances of bi­ased col­lu­sion, pos­i­tive or neg­a­tive, can be sig­nif­i­cantly in­creased when the vot­ers share cer­tain com­mon char­ac­ter­is­tics. For such col­lu­sion to be pos­si­ble, how­ever, the shared bias must be a pri­or­ity bias (a key com­po­nent of the So­cial Choice The­ory is that peo­ple are in­ca­pable of an agree­ment in which all the par­ties are whole­somely sat­is­fied be­cause all th­ese per­sons have a list of pref­er­ences that is to­tally var­ied from the next per­son's. Hav­ing a com­mon list of pref­er­ences, in the or­der pre­ferred, is there­fore an im­pos­si­bil­ity which in­creases with an in­crease in the num­ber of vot­ers – the fa­mous Ar­row's the­o­rem).

Col­lu­sion based on a pri­or­ity bias has been con­sis­tently proven in the Kenyan elec­tions seen in party and tribal bi­ases that of­ten tramp upon in­di­vid­ual wishes. The only way this can be erad­i­cated is through a mod­er­ate de­lib­er­a­tive democ­racy mech­a­nism where the choice mak­ers have a proven un­der­stand­ing and demon­stra­ble un­der­stand­ing of their duty with re­gard to choice and law-mak­ing (for the elected rep­re­sen­ta­tives) cou­pled with a moral obli­ga­tion to carry out such duty in a most hon­est way – the elites. By and

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