Ramon Llull: From 'Ars Electionis' to Social Choice Theory
Ramon Llull (Majorca c.1232–1316) is one of the earliest founding fathers of voting theory and social choice theory. The present article places Llull’s contributions and discussion in the historical context of elections in the medieval Church and the emergence of majority rule as a new general principle for making enforceable collective decisions in replacement of traditional unanimous requirements. To make the majority principle operational, Llull initially proposed a system of exhaustive binary comparisons that is more efficacious in producing a winner than the Condorcet system, in anticipation to the so called Copeland procedure. In contrast to some previous tentative suggestions, careful reading of Llull’s papers demonstrates that he did not propose a rank-order count system, such as those proposed later on by Cusanus and Borda. A new hypothesis is presented to explain Llull’s later proposal of an eliminatory system of partial binary comparisons. Some performance of Llull’s voting systems is estimated by innovative analysis of results in certain modern sports tournaments.
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