Skip to main content

How to Decide: Majority vote? or Specialist Opinion?

   In some prior articles (here and here) I wrote about church government, and one of my points was that it is not up to the majority to decide on any given issue. Rather, it is the qualified person who should decide. I gave an example, something along the following lines: If you have a problem with your liver, are you going to post it on facebook and ask what you should do? Whatever the majority agrees upon, that is what you will do? No. At least I hope not. You will most likely go to a doctor, a specialist, a person who knows the subject in question and who can make the appropriate decisions based upon his knowledge of Medicine.
   I was reading the Laches by Plato today and came across an interesting quote by Socrates. The Laches begins with a conversation between two men who are trying to decide upon what is the best way to educate two boys that they are responsible for. They approach Laches, Nicias, and Socrates is included in the mix. After having heard the preliminary opinions of Nicias and Laches, the two men turn to Socrates and ask for Socrates to cast his vote because Nicias and Laches disagree. If Socrates sides with one of the two men, then the decision will be made. Socrates responds in the following way:

  "Socrates: ... Suppose there should be a council to decide whether your son ought to practice a particular kind of gymnastic exercise, would you be persuaded by the greater number or by whoever has been educated and exercised under a good trainer?
  Melesias: Probably by the latter, Socrates.
  Socrates: And would you be persuaded by him rather than by the four of us?
  Melesias: Probably.
  Socrates: So I think it is by knowledge that one ought to make decisions, if one is to make them well, and not by majority rule.
  Melesias: Certainly.
  Socrates: So in this present case it is also necessary to investigate first whether any of us is an expert in the subject we are debating, or not. And if one of us is, then we should listen to him even if he is only one, and disregard the others. But if no one of us is an expert, then we must look for someone who is. (184e-185a)"

    The point that Socrates makes is the same point that I was trying to make in the other articles that I wrote; that is, we should not be seeking the opinions of the majority when we seek to make a decision, but the opinion of those qualified to make the decision in question.

Popular posts from this blog

How Kant’s Synthesis of Empiricism and Rationalism resulted in Agnosticism

Immanuel Kant, presented with the extreme empiricism of Hume and the extreme rationalism of Liebniz, which he discovered through the writings Wolff, sought to take a middle road between these two extreme philosophical positions. I would submit that Kant’s synthesis of these two views leads to an agnosticism about what Kant called “the thing-in-itself”, and ultimately to the philosophical positions known as Atheism, determinism, and nihilism.

Kant’s Sources
First of all, Kant was influenced by Hume’s empiricism and Newton’s physics. He saw that the physical sciences, in contrast to rationalistic metaphysics, were actually making advances. They were making discoveries, and building a system of knowledge that accurately described the world of our sense perceptions. Rationalistic metaphysics, on the other hand, was floundering amidst the combating systems that the philosophers were erecting. It did not provide new knowledge, and only led to unacceptable conclusions, such as the Absolute Mon…


Leisure: The Basis of Culture & the Philosophical Act. Josef Pieper. Translated by Alexander Dru. 1963. Reprint, Ignatius Press, 2009. 143 pp. $12.99. ISBN 978-1-58617-256-5.
            This book is composed of two articles written by the German philosopher Josef Pieper. Though the two articles are intimately connected, they form two distinct works; as such, this book review will begin by giving a brief introduction to the works in question, followed by and exposition of each of the works individually. The two articles that are included in this book, Leisure: the Basis of Culture and The Philosophical Act, were both published in 1947, and, as such, were written during the cultural crisis in Germany that followed the Second World War. Not only did Pieper have the cultural crisis in mind when he wrote these articles, but he was also writing in light of the works of the most well-known German philosopher of the time – Martin Heidegger. As such, any reader who is familiar with Heidegg…


I don’t propose to attempt any sort of reply to Martin Heidegger in this article. The purpose of this article is to explain Martin Heidegger’s thoughts, as they are found in the book, Identity and Difference. Martin Heidegger is a difficult thinker to understand, and requires a lot of work to fully appreciate his arguments. My primary goal in this article is to introduce the reader to two very important articles written by Heidegger, and, I hope, to properly explain Heidegger’s views on Being and beings.
            This book is composed of two articles written by Martin Heidegger and translated with an introduction by Joan Stambaugh. The first article, The Principle of Identity, is “the unchanged text of a lecture given on the occasion of the 500th anniversary of the University of Freiburg im Breisgau, for the faculty day on June 27, 1957.”[1] The second article The Onto-theo-logical Constitution of Metaphysics, is “the explication that concluded a seminar during the wint…