British Journal of Political Science



Special Majorities Rationalized


ROBERT E.  GOODIN a1 a and CHRISTIAN  LIST a2 a
a1 Social & Political Theory and Philosophy Programs, RSSS, Australian National University, Canberra.
a2 Department of Government, London School of Economics.

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Abstract

Complaints are common about the arbitrary and conservative bias of special-majority rules. Such complaints, however, apply to asymmetrical versions of those rules alone. Symmetrical special-majority rules remedy that defect, albeit at the cost of often rendering no determinate verdict. Here what is formally at stake, both procedurally and epistemically, is explored in the choice between those two forms of special-majority rule and simple-majority rule; and practical ways are suggested of resolving matters left open by symmetrical special-majority rules – such as ‘judicial extrapolation’ or ‘subsidiarity’ in a federal system.

(Published Online March 9 2006)



Footnotes

a The authors are grateful for comments from John Dryzek, John Ferejohn, Dennis Mueller, Albert Weale and anonymous referees. This article was written while List was a Post-doctoral Fellow in the Social & Political Theory Program, RSSS, Australian National University.