Politics, Philosophy and Economics 14 (3):229-254 (2015)

Consensus plays an ambiguous role in deliberative democracy. While it formed the horizon of early deliberative theories, many now denounce it as an empirically unachievable outcome, a logically impossible stopping rule, and a normatively undesirable ideal. Deliberative disagreement, by contrast, is celebrated not just as an empirically unavoidable outcome but also as a democratically sound and normatively desirable goal of deliberation. Majority rule has generally displaced unanimity as the ideal way of bringing deliberation to a close. This article offers an epistemic perspective on this question of consensus versus disagreement. For ensuring the production of better decisions, we argue, the normative appeal of consensus varies depending on the deliberative task – whether it entails problem solving or prediction. We argue that in pure problem-solving contexts, consensus retains a strong normative appeal and forms the ideal deliberative outcome of deliberation. In contrast, on predictive tasks, consensus should generally not be used as a stopping rule noris it likely to be epistemically desirable as an outcome. Instead deliberators may be better served by ending the deliberation with a form of deliberative disagreement we call ‘positive dissensus’, which paves the way for more accurate aggregate predictions.
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DOI 10.1177/1470594x14544284
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References found in this work BETA

Inclusion and Democracy.Iris Marion Young - 2000 - Oxford University Press.
Why Deliberative Democracy?Amy Gutmann & Dennis Thompson - 2004 - Princeton University Press.

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Against Epistocracy.Paul Gunn - 2019 - Critical Review: A Journal of Politics and Society 31 (1):26-82.
The Epistemic Limits of Shared Reasons.Alexander Motchoulski - 2020 - European Journal of Philosophy 28 (1):164-176.

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