Epistemic Democracy and its Challenges

Posted: 12 May 2015

See all articles by Melissa Schwartzberg

Melissa Schwartzberg

Columbia University; New York University (NYU) - Department of Politics

Date Written: May 2015


Epistemic democracy defends the capacity of “the many” to make correct decisions and seeks to justify democracy by reference to this ability. Epistemic democrats marshal substantial evidence from the history of political thought and a set of models to support their claims. The essay assesses this evidence and argues in favor of more empirical testing. It also cautions against using the contextually limited evidence of wise decisions as a basis for justifying democratic decision making. Instead, the article sketches a “deflationary model” that relies on neither an independent standard of correctness nor the more ambitious assertions of the reliability of the mechanisms. That model, termed judgment democracy, retains epistemic democracy's attractive respect for individual judgments and concern with institutional design, while eschewing its least plausible features.

Suggested Citation

Schwartzberg, Melissa, Epistemic Democracy and its Challenges (May 2015). Annual Review of Political Science, Vol. 18, pp. 187-203, 2015, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2605444 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1146/annurev-polisci-110113-121908

Melissa Schwartzberg (Contact Author)

Columbia University

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New York University (NYU) - Department of Politics ( email )

New York, NY
United States

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