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Deliberation with Evidence

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  25 August 2011

University of Toulouse
Jérôme Mathis is Assistant Professor, Toulouse School of Economics, University of Toulouse 1 Capitole, Manufacture des Tabacs, Aile Jean-Jacques Laffont, F219, 21, Allée de Brienne, F-31000 Toulouse, France (


In committee deliberation, requiring a unanimous vote intuitively provides the strongest incentives for actors to share fully their opinions and private information. It is also believed that full revelation of (decision-relevant) information occurs when personal biases are made clear before deliberation. However, recent literature suggests that both intuitions are flawed. Austen-Smith and Feddersen propose a model in which the unanimity rule performs worse than other rules in promoting fully revealing deliberation, and uncertainty about individuals' preferences promotes full sharing of information. We extend this work by incorporating the possibility that individuals may provide verifiable evidence for their private information. Under this circumstance, we demonstrate that Austen-Smith and Feddersen's results are reversed. First, a unanimous voting rule performs better than any other, as unanimity is the only rule that always promotes fully revealing deliberation. Second, under fairly general conditions, uncertainty about individuals' preferences prevents full sharing of information.

Research Article
Copyright © American Political Science Association 2011

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