No theory forbids me to say "Ah!" or "Ugh!", but it forbids me the bogus theorization of my "Ah!" and "Ugh!" - the value judgments. - Theodor Julius Geiger (1960)

Individuality vs Social Unity in Decision-making

Reconciling Individuality and Social Unity through Decision-Making Processes

There is a tension between individuality and social unity; society aims to reconcile these conflicting forces. While unanimity was historically prized in some societies, majority rule has become more common, often for pragmatic reasons. There are two main reasons for the subordination of the minority in majority decisions: the physical power of numbers and the belief in the majority representing the collective will. This shift from unanimity to majority rule reflects a transition from individualistic to group-oriented decision-making, particularly evident in parliamentary systems. Majority rule rests on concepts like the social contract and Rousseau's idea of the general will. Subordination to the majority is a logical consequence of participating in the social contract, wherein individuals forfeit absolute freedom for social cohesion. Conditions under which majority decisions are meaningful require a convergence of interests among participants. Unanimity can still be necessary, particularly in matters affecting diverse and dispersed interests within a society.


The Ambiguity of Outvoting and its Implications for Individuality and Group Consensus

While outvoting may suggest the existence of a unified will within a group, the coercion of the minority and the legitimacy of majority decisions are concerning. Conflicts within Christianity over doctrinal decisions made by majority vote illustrate the tension between individual conscience and group consensus. Even when voting ostensibly represents collective unity, dissenting individuals still maintain their individuality within the group. Achieving unanimity or majority rule is inherently challenging. While voting aims to harmonize diverse interests, it often fails to fully address the complexities of individual autonomy and group cohesion. Outvoting is emblematic of the profound dualism between individual existence and collective unity, reflecting a fundamental ambiguity within social structures.



Simmel, G. (1908), Exkurs über die Überstimmung, in: Soziologie - Untersuchungen über die Formen der Vergesellschaftung, Leipzig: Duncker und Humblot.