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The Many as One: Integrity and Group Choice in Paradoxical Cases

Lewis A. Kornhauser

New York University School of Law

Lawrence G. Sager

University of Texas at Austin - School of Law

August 15, 2003

U of Texas Public Law & Legal Theory, Research Paper No. 55

There is a family of views that converge on the idea that the rational connection between reasons and actions that would be ideal in the case of an individual is also the appropriate ideal for political communities. Ideally, on this account, both should possess and be guided by a coherent set of beliefs and values. Dworkin, whose views fall within this family, speaks of the obligation of communities to behave as would a well-considered individual as the ideal of "integrity," and we follow that usage. We begin with the proposition that perfect integrity is impossible, as there exist paradoxical cases in which group consensus over reasons diverges from group consensus over courses of action. With this as our point of departure, we explore four difficulties with the concept and implementation of the ideal of integrity, difficulties that are sufficiently great to seriously threaten many accounts and applications of integrity: (1) Community decisions may reflect preferences, factual judgments, judgments of value or some combination, and the demands of integrity will vary across these circumstances; reason-based integrity may have no place at all, for example, in matters of group preference. (2) In group decisions implicating judgments of fact or judgments of value, the focus and strength of commitment may vary across individuals in ways that will fatally undermine a program of reason-based integrity. (3) A commitment to integrity across individuals with regard to a single community decision carries the conceptual entailment of consistency of community decisions over time; this makes legislative integrity impossible as a practical matter unless entrenched features of current legislative practice are reformed in ways that are at once impractical and, from a standpoint of democratic values, unattractive. (4) Community decisions are almost always made by smaller groups acting as the agent of the community - typically a legislative body whose members represent constituencies within the community; accordingly, a conception of integrity must identify and justify the group to which integrity applies - the decision-making body, the constituency of the individual representative, or the community as a whole.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 48

Keywords: deliberative democracy, integrity, paradoxical cases, political theory, philosophy of law, jurisprudence

JEL Classification: H10, H19, K10, K19

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Date posted: September 15, 2003  

Suggested Citation

Kornhauser, Lewis A. and Sager, Lawrence G., The Many as One: Integrity and Group Choice in Paradoxical Cases (August 15, 2003). U of Texas Public Law & Legal Theory, Research Paper No. 55. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=441466 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.441466

Contact Information

Lewis A. Kornhauser (Contact Author)
New York University School of Law ( email )
40 Washington Square South
New York, NY 10012-1099
United States
(212) 998-6175 (Phone)
(212) 995-4341 (Fax)
Lawrence G. Sager
University of Texas at Austin - School of Law ( email )
727 East Dean Keeton Street
1 University Station Stop D1800
Austin, TX 78705
United States
512-232-1322 (Phone)
512-471-6988 (Fax)
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