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6 - Deliberation and Ideological Domination

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 June 2012

Adam Przeworski
Affiliation:
New York University
Jon Elster
Affiliation:
Columbia University, New York
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Summary

“I did not realize how sophisticated they [the opponents] would be in conveying messages that were effective politically even though substantively wrong.”

Hillary Clinton, interview in the New York Times, October 3, 1994

“Deliberation” is a form of discussion intended to change the preferences on the bases of which people decide how to act. Deliberation is “political” when it leads to a decision binding on a community. Discussion of a seminar paper is not political: participants may learn what to do individually but do not decide how to act collectively. Finally, “democratic political deliberation” occurs when discussion leads to a decision by voting. If a dictator listens to a discussion and then makes the decision, deliberation is political but not democratic.

In a democracy we want to persuade others because we know that they may vote on a decision that will bind us. We want to influence other people's views because these views will affect us.

What difference does it make if people deliberate before voting? Is the outcome of voting preceded by deliberation in some ways better than one without it? Is a democratic decision based on deliberation more likely to be based on true beliefs about the causal relations between policies and outcomes or about the beliefs of others? When people have a chance to persuade each other before voting, are they more likely to accept the outcome of voting?

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 1998

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