Today at the LOGOS Colloquium, Stephan Hartmann discussed the so-called “discursive dilemma.” I was convinced by Genoveva Martí that it is not clear how to get a real dilemma from the examples. Suppose a hiring committee agrees to appoint a candidate if but only if s/he is strong both at research and at teaching. One third of them think s/he is, one other third think s/he is strong only at research, and the final third that s/he is strong only at teaching. It seems to me that a collective decision-making mechanism that allows the candidate to be hired in this situation is not the most reasonable one.
Pettit (2001) seems to suggest that, were the candidate not to be hired, the group would suffer from a certain sort of deficiency in “collective rationality”, as the majority think the candidate is strong at research, and the majority think that s/he is strong at teaching. That is true, but it certainly does not follow that the majority think that s/he’s strong both at research and at teaching—actually, the majority think s/he lacks one essential requirement to be appointable. Why should they hire the candidate??