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Assessing the Epistemic Quality of Democratic Decision-Making in Terms of Adequate Support for Conclusions

31 Pages Posted: 4 Apr 2014 Last revised: 17 Sep 2016

Henrik Friberg‐Fernros

Göteborg University - Department of Political Science

Johan Schaffer

University of Oslo - Norwegian Centre for Human Rights; Göteborg University - School of Global Studies

Date Written: June 14, 2016

Abstract

How can we assess the epistemic quality of democratic decision-making? Sceptics doubt such assessments are possible, as they must rely on controversial substantive standards of truth and rightness. Challenging that scepticism, this paper suggests a procedure-independent standard for assessing the epistemic quality of democratic decision-making by evaluating whether it is adequately supported by reasons. Adequate support for conclusion is a necessary (but insufficient on its own) aspect of epistemic quality for any epistemic justification of democracy, though particularly relevant to theories that emphasise public deliberation. Finding existing methods for measuring the quality of public discourse to fall short, we draw on an epistemological theory of argumentation to provide a more sophisticated approach to evaluating the epistemic quality of democratic decision-making, illustrate how the approach can be used, and demonstrate its relevance for the epistemic turn in democratic theory.

Keywords: Epistemic democracy, deliberative democracy, epistemological theory of argumentation, argument schemes, support adequacy, discourse quality

Suggested Citation

Friberg‐Fernros, Henrik and Schaffer, Johan, Assessing the Epistemic Quality of Democratic Decision-Making in Terms of Adequate Support for Conclusions (June 14, 2016). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2419954 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2419954

Henrik Friberg-Fernros

Göteborg University - Department of Political Science ( email )

Box 711
Göteborg, S-405 30
Sweden

Johan Schaffer (Contact Author)

University of Oslo - Norwegian Centre for Human Rights ( email )

Oslo, 0130
Norway

Göteborg University - School of Global Studies ( email )

POB 700
Gothenburg, SE 40530
Sweden

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