Majority’s are the amplified views of the select, influential (manipulative) few.
Probably, that is why most of the views on any issue could be clubbed into few categories (corresponding to the number of factions pushing a particular view).
Of course, another reason could be the limited number of opinions that could be formed on any issue. For instance, response to 2 + 2? would be unique, i.e., 4. But, it is a fact, and not ‘view’.
But responses to “Do you like vanilla ice cream?”, fall in three main categories–‘yes’, ‘no’, and ‘neutral’. Again, this is an individual taste, and one’s choice would not have a significant impact on our society. Importantly, the choice does not come bundled with an ‘ought’ or ‘ought not’ (‘O/ON’).
But there are issues, where O/ON does get typically involved, and fall in the domains of law and judiciary, public policy, resource allocation especially when limited, etc.
Simple examples of passionate polarization of opinions would be. Should we allow:
1. Sale of alcohol?
2. Research on and sale of genetically modified food?
The ‘most accepted’ benchmark to reach a decision is: the fraction of all people having one view v/s other contending views. We call the largest fraction ‘majority’.
The idea seems appealing. Since childhood, we are told of virtues of a majority’s decision, and the power it wields.
When a child does something wrong, and if the explanation is ‘he also did the same’, our common retort is ‘if he jumps in a well, would you also jump?’ Good argument. But when the defense is ‘everyone does it’, we do not ask, ‘if everyone jumps into the well, would you jump?’. This is owing to a deep seated prejudice that majority is always right.
Majority would be right, especially in issues of public interest, if it would:
1. Have access to adequate information to base opinion on.
2. Be ethical to place justice above personal gains.
3. Not be blinded by communal affiliations–religion, region, gender, etc,
4. Have sufficient wisdom to understand all the factors, and weigh them accordingly.
5. Be immune to influence by propaganda.
How often are all the criteria met?
I am unable to propose an alternative way to reach decisions in matters of O/ON, but we should stop considering decisions reverentially, only because they would have been reached by a majority.