Consensus, Convergence, and Strategic Public Reasoning
22 Pages Posted: 23 Feb 2018 Last revised: 19 Feb 2020
Date Written: July 12, 2019
Theories of public reason hold that authoritative commands are justified if all who are subject to such commands have reason to accept them. Beyond this, public reason theories differ. Consensus public reason liberals hold that persons must have the same reason for endorsing the commands they live under. Convergence public reason liberals hold that persons may have different reasons for accepting the commands. Strikingly, there is little examination of the effects these theories of public reason have in terms of likely policy outcomes. This paper develops a game theoretic model of consensus and convergence theories of public reason. The model finds a genuine trade-off between the two theories. Convergence public reason gives too much power to the (potentially arbitrary) agenda setter, while consensus public reason has a tendency to over-implement unjust reforms. These results inform where public reason liberals should focus their attention when debating accounts of public justification.
Keywords: Cheap Talk, Deliberative Democracy, Epistemic Democracy, Public Reason, Strategic Communication
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