Democratic Reason: The Mechanisms of Collective Intelligence in Politics
COLLECTIVE WISDOM: PRINCIPLES AND MECHANISMS, Hélène Landemore and Jon Elster, eds., Cambridge University Press, Spring 2012
63 Pages Posted: 20 May 2011 Last revised: 3 Jun 2011
Date Written: April 1, 2011
This paper argues that democracy can be seen as a way to channel “democratic reason,” or the collective political intelligence of the many. The paper hypothesizes that two main democratic mechanisms - the practice of inclusive deliberation (in its direct and indirect versions) and the institution of majority rule with universal suffrage - combine their epistemic properties to maximize the chances that the group pick the “better” political answer within a given context and a set of values. The paper further argues that under the conditions of a liberal society, characterized among other things by sufficient cognitive diversity, these two mechanisms give democracy an epistemic edge over versions of the rule of the few.
Keywords: Democratic Reason, Collective Intelligence, Epistemic Democracy, Majority Rule, Deliberation, Cognitive Diversity, Democracy
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