‘Talking it Out’: Deliberation with Others Versus Deliberation Within
39 Pages Posted: 20 Aug 2010 Last revised: 1 Jun 2011
Date Written: 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.
Keywords: deliberation, reason, evolutionary psychology, deliberative democracy, arguing, argumentation, polarization
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