It's good to talk: Deliberative institutions for environmental policy

Philosophy and Geography 5 (2):133 – 152 (2002)
Abstract
Most applications of cost-benefit analysis in environmental policy, and almost all the controversial cases, involve the use of contingent valuation (CV) surveys. There is now a relatively well-developed critique of CV as a method of public consultation on environmental issues. Theories of deliberative democracy have been invoked which question the individualistic, preference-based calculus of CV. A particular deliberative institution which has recently received much attention is the citizens' jury (CJ). While CJs and other deliberative institutions have come to be regarded as alternatives to CV, it is far from obvious in what sense this is true. The discussion begins by exploring the extent to which CV and CJ can be meaningfully compared. After specifying a limited sense in which this is possible, the paper goes on to assess the virtues of deliberation by reference to this comparison. Much of the assessment is made from the perspective of rational choice theory, because that approach has been influential amongst critics of deliberative democracy. The main aim is to develop an argument for the merits of deliberation, in terms which its critics must acknowledge.
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