Deliberation, Consensus, and Decision
Interdisciplinary Seminars in Politics and Economics: Deliberation, Consensus, and Decision
Lehrende: Prof. Dr. Dr. Lydia Mechtenberg; Prof. Dr. Peter Niesen
Anzeige im Stundenplan: 22-4.sem2
Min. | Max. Teilnehmerzahl: - | 18
DELIBERATION, CONSENSUS AND DECISION
M.SC. PEP SEMINAR SUMMER 2017
PROF. DR. DR. LYDIA MECHTENBERG, PROF. DR. PETER NIESEN
In political deliberation, every participant is on an equal footing and presumed to be able to consider everyone’s beliefs purely on their merits, as well as willing to adapt their own views in response to reasons. It is therefore natural to see deliberation as aiming at reasoned consensus (Miller 1992, Dryzek/List 2003).
Recent studies in political science, however, raise the question if and why deliberation should be aiming at consensus at all. Controversy over standards of deliberative quality, postulated experimentally or in the field (cf. Steenbergen et al. 2003) reflects the fact that the logically prior question of what the value of consensus is has not been investigated. Why focus on consensual or at least “undefeated” reasons (Gaus 2011)? One answer may be that decisions supported by reasons are more likely to be correct (the epistemic view, Landemore 2015), another that consensual results point toward solutions within collective problem resolution practices (the pragmatic view, see Gerlsbeck 2016), a third that consensual decisions command more widespread acceptance if more people see their own commitments reflected in them, or tend to accept “self-given” laws as binding on them (the legitimacy view, Niesen forthcoming; Brandts, Gerhards, and Mechtenberg, work in progress), yet another that decisions supported by undefeated reasons reflect a form of procedural rationality, as this mirrors an ideal rational decision procedure on the individual level (the rationality view, see Habermas 1996).
In experimental economics, deliberation is normally implemented as a chat within a lab experiment. There are only few studies, however, that consider more than the purely informative content of messages, like, e.g., the degree of esteem for the opponent. One exception is Brandts, Gerhards, and Mechtenberg (work in progress). In experimental political science, deliberation is implemented within field experiment and studied more broadly in its various dimensions. Results of these experiments reveal that the reality of deliberation overlaps with its ideal, but also diverges from it in relevant respects (see, e.g., Steiner 2012).
Democratic theory aims at connecting consensus-oriented procedures with decision mechanisms, but it is unclear what a “deliberative” decision procedure demands (Niesen 2014). A number of suggestions – such as the much-maligned institution of the liberum veto (requirement of unanimous voting; for a defense see Moore/O’Doherty 2014), the combination of unanimous meta-procedures with majoritarian voting (Habermas 1996) or consensual decision-making expressed by non-opposition (Urfalino 2014) – have been discussed, but candidate procedures have not been mapped onto different positions on the value of consensus.
This seminar attempts to discuss the above mentioned questions in political theory and to prompt students to design experiments that could help in answering them.
In the first two sessions, topics are introduced and assigned and the experimental method is explained to those who are unfamiliar with it. In the subsequent ten weeks, students present and discuss existing literature. After a break of 3 weeks, a workshop (July 11, 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.) will be held on which students present their own designs of experimental studies addressing the effects of deliberation on collective decisions and / or the determinants of the quality of deliberation. Incorporating the feedback they will get in the course of this workshop, they will lay down their final experimental design in an essay to be submitted prior to August 31, 2017. The presentation of the literature will constitute 20% and the essay 80% of the final grade. Presentations and essays may be created in teams of 2-3 students.
Dryzek, J.S. and C. List (2003) “Social Choice Theory and Deliberative Democracy: a Reconciliation,” British Journal of Political Science, 33(1), 1–28.
Gaus, G., 2011. The Order of Public Reason, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Gerlsbeck, F., 2016. “The reliability of democracy. Epistemic theories of democracy and the problem of reasonable disagreement.” Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy.
Habermas, J., 1996. Between Facts and Norms. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press.
Landemore, Helene, 2012. Democratic Reason. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press
Miller, D., 1992. “Deliberative Democracy and Social Choice”. Political Studies, 40, 54–67.
Moore, A. and O’Doherty, K., 2014. “Deliberative Voting: Clarifying Consent in a Consensus Process”. Journal of Political Philosophy 22, 3, 302–319
Niesen, P., 2014: Was heißt Deliberation? Eine theoriegeschichtliche Betrachtung, in O. Flügel-Martinsen, D. Gaus, T. Hitzel-Cassagnes, F. Martinsen (eds.) Kritik der Deliberation - Deliberation als Kritik, Wiesbaden: VS 2014, 49-71.
Niesen, P., forthcoming: “Discourse Ethics,” in J. Timmermann, S. Golob (eds.), Cambridge History of Moral Philosophy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Steenbergen, M., Bächtiger, A., Spörndli, M. und Steiner, J. 2003. „Measuring Political Deliberation: A Discourse Quality Index“. Comparative European Politics 1. P. 21-48.
Steiner, J., 2012. The Foundations of Deliberative Democracy – Empirical Research and Normative Implications. Cambridge UP.
Urfalino, P., 2014. “The Rule of Non-Opposition: Opening Up Decision-Making by Consensus”. Journal of Political Philosophy 22, 3, 320–341