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‘Talking it Out’: Deliberation with Others Versus Deliberation Within

Helene E. Landemore

Yale University

Hugo Mercier

University of Neuchatel

August 17, 2010

This paper uses a psychological theory of reasoning – the argumentative theory of reasoning – to support the normative appeal of the dialogical version of democratic deliberation at the heart of the deliberative democracy ideal. We use the argumentative theory of reasoning to defend democratic deliberation against two types of critique. Our main target is Goodin and Niemeyer’s claim that deliberation within rather than deliberation with others does most of the work in terms of changing people’s minds. We argue, on the contrary, that if the argumentative theory of reasoning is right that the normal context of reasoning is an exchange of arguments among differently-minded people, then it is more likely that talking things out with others, rather than thinking alone, will have epistemic and/or transformative properties. Our secondary target is Cass Sunstein’s claim that the phenomenon of “group polarization” noted to afflict groups of like-minded people casts serious doubts as to the epistemic properties of democratic deliberation. Against Sunstein, the argumentative theory of reasoning predicts that it is only groups of individuals that fail to deliberate properly that are likely to polarize. Where the normal conditions of reasoning are satisfied, dialogical deliberation of the kind favored by most deliberative democrats is likely to have epistemic and transformative properties.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 39

Keywords: deliberation, reason, evolutionary psychology, deliberative democracy, arguing, argumentation, polarization

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Date posted: August 20, 2010 ; Last revised: June 1, 2011

Suggested Citation

Landemore, Helene E. and Mercier, Hugo, ‘Talking it Out’: Deliberation with Others Versus Deliberation Within (August 17, 2010). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1660695 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1660695

Contact Information

Helene E. Landemore (Contact Author)
Yale University ( email )
New Haven, CT 06520
United States
Hugo Mercier
University of Neuchatel ( email )
Espace Louis Agassiz 1
Neuchâtel, 2000
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