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Single Idea 19804

[catalogued under 25. Society / B. The State / 2. State Legitimacy / e. General will]

Full Idea

If, when a sufficiently informed populace deliberates, the citizens were to have no communication among themselves, the general will would always result from a large number of small differences, and the deliberations would always be good.

Gist of Idea

If a large knowledgeable population votes in isolation, their many choices will have good results


Jean-Jacques Rousseau (The Social Contract (tr Cress) [1762], II.03)

A Reaction

An obvious weak point in the electorate being well informed, if someone controls the sources of information. All the optimism of the Enlightenment is in this idea - that rational beings converge of the truth. All pubs closed in the month of an election?

Book Reference

Rousseau,Jean-Jacques: 'The Basic Political Writings', ed/tr. Cress,Donald A. [Hackett 1987], p.156

Related Idea

Idea 95 If everyone believes it, it is true [Aristotle]