[EM] Voting on matters of pure fact

LAYTON Craig Craig.LAYTON at add.nsw.gov.au
Sun Apr 22 21:57:58 PDT 2001

>> In juries, jurors prefer a choice because it is a better
>> fit of the facts. Of course, their subjective or
>> performance-based competencies could be factored into
>> computing the collective outcome. The Shapley-Grofman
>> theorem does this.
>That's a thought.  Juries hadn't occurred to me.  Indeed an
>example of a vote on a matter of fact.  Or perhaps merely a
>vote on whether the court may act on a proposed fact.
>Somewhat slippery.  But the jury sounds like as good an
>example as is to be found.

I'm not sure that the idea of juries for criminal offences is unbiased fact
finding.  Qualified judicial professionals would arguably be much better if
that was the aim (as in civil cases, which are generally decided by judges
outside the US).  A crime is usually defined as an offence against society
(as opposed to a civil offence which is an offence against a person).  It is
therefore appropriate for society to make the decision as to whether or not
a crime has been committed against them.  As all of society cannot sit
through all of the evidence and make an informed decision, a random
selection of people represent society in that case.

It is really more a matter of the legitimacy of the legal system,
particularly given that the application of the law is not simply the
ascertaining of facts (according to the bulk of modern legal theory,

I suppose my conclusion is that there aren't really any votes on matters of
pure fact.  I guess there might be some kind of twisted institutional
example, like the national French language board (I can't remember the
name).  It officially publishes the words that make up the French language,
so, when the board members vote on the inclusion of a word, they are voting
on whether or not that word is part of the French language, which would
appear to be a matter of pure fact.  For Catholics, the election of the Pope
is an even better example, but from non-Catholics there would be the obvious
objection that there is no matter of fact involved.

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