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Anand Kannan

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Should decisions in a group be based on Majority Rule ?

I always wonder if a decision in a group should be based on what the majority of the people like. The aim obviously is to please the most number of people, but each person experiences only his/her feelings. There is no collective group experience.
For eg, in a group of 5, if 4 people are for something, and 1 is against it. And by the rule we go with what the 4 people wanted for. And lets quantify success as +1 and failure as -1. What happens now is, we have 4 individuals experiencing success or +1. This is not equal to +4. We have not increased the success or happiness to anyone. They still experience only +1 each.


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  • Dec 18 2012: I dont think the rule is that simple. Rather, there is a set of rules that govern such a decision-making process. THe first rule is what you define as the Majority Rule. But in a rationale society ( Lets not include people who don't think before making decisions), everyone is given an unrestrained choice to explain why he decided against the majority. To illustrate with the pizza scenario, if the majority of the group decides to eat chicken while only one individual prefers beef, the individual could have reasoned out his decision. Then, the ultimate decision hinges on the magnitude of the reason. Theoretically, if the magnitude of the reason outweighs the social gain of the chicken majority, in the case of religious prohibition to chicken (just a assumption), then the majority might choose to conform to the decision of the minority. If otherwise, that means that the reason is unconvincing, then the minority would have no choice but to conform.
    However, the minority could also have the liberty to not stick to the majority's decision, if let's say he has the money to purchase his own pizza and he absolutely despises eating chicken pizza even though his reason is unconvincing.
    Or, chicken pizza could be a decision of lower priority in the minority's list of decision. So even if chicken pizza is selected for all, it may not mean that the minority loses out.
    So, there are so many mechanisms that are in play when deciding on something. In summary, it actually isnt rules that determine decisions. Rather, it is conditions that are in play. In general, the conditions would probably be: magnitude of reason for one's choice, degree of autonomy to choose and hence a derived level of conformity, and whether or not the minority has an evaluated value gain/loss by conforming to the decision of the majority.
    • Dec 18 2012: I agree to your point on magnitude of the reason. However, there are cases like elections and voting where they only do a count of how many individuals, rather than by how much each individual likes or dislikes a thing..
      • Dec 19 2012: Well in an election, there is a period of time whereby reasoning can come in play. An electoral decision basically hinges on social interplay between the groups of the election race. Among the groups, the act of convincing a neutral citizen or a decided citizen to vote can be willfully done by a member of the political group or a decided citizen. An individual from the minority is given the liberty (in a unrestrained country) to convince another individual why they should choose the minority's choice instead. The result of the election is thus an indication of who is more valued highly in the country. That means, the social gain of the majority outweighs the social gain of the minority.

        So in most cases, in an unrestrained decision-making community, the ability to convert someone's decision with reason is inherently given. Therefore, in an electoral or voting form of decision-making, both the counting (the mere descriptive act of accumulating votes) and the basing on like and dislike (the political chaos before the voting process) are part of the whole decision-making process.

        And (If you are wondering why Majority Rule is used in favour of, maybe, proportional representation in an election) it is expected that only one political party claims the sovereignty of the country. I believe that besides Majority Rule, there is only proportional representation as an alternate election method. Currently, it is rare to see countries practice proportional representation, for it is disastrous to political stability. So, there is no other choice but to stick Majority Rule for it is the least devastation-producing method to decide who rules.

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