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Special majorities rationalized

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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.

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