Synthese 195 (3):1-21 (2018)

Stephan Hartmann
Ludwig Maximilians Universität, München
There are various ways to reach a group decision on a factual yes–no question. One way is to vote and decide what the majority votes for. This procedure receives some epistemological support from the Condorcet Jury Theorem. Alternatively, the group members may prefer to deliberate and will eventually reach a decision that everybody endorses—a consensus. While the latter procedure has the advantage that it makes everybody happy, it has the disadvantage that it is difficult to implement, especially for larger groups. Besides, the resulting consensus may be far away from the truth. And so we ask: Is deliberation truth-conducive in the sense that majority voting is? To address this question, we construct a highly idealized model of a particular deliberation process, inspired by the movie Twelve Angry Men, and show that the answer is ‘yes’. Deliberation procedures can be truth-conducive just as the voting procedure is. We then explore, again on the basis of our model and using agent-based simulations, under which conditions it is better epistemically to deliberate than to vote. Our analysis shows that there are contexts in which deliberation is epistemically preferable and we will provide reasons for why this is so.
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Reprint years 2016, 2018
DOI 10.1007/s11229-016-1268-9
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References found in this work BETA

Epistemic Democracy: Generalizing the Condorcet Jury Theorem.Christian List & Robert E. Goodin - 2001 - Journal of Political Philosophy 9 (3):277–306.
Epistemic Democracy with Defensible Premises.Franz Dietrich & Kai Spiekermann - 2013 - Economics and Philosophy 29 (1):87--120.
General Representation of Epistemically Optimal Procedures.Franz Dietrich - 2006 - Social Choice and Welfare 2 (26):263-283.

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