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Social Choice Theory on Deliberative Democracy - Dictionary of Arguments

Gaus I 146
Deliberative democracy/social choice theory/Dryzek: Deliberative democracy has three prominent sets of critics, who otherwise have absolutely nothing in common: social choice theorists, ifference democrats, and sceptical egalitarians. Cf. >Democracy/Riker, >Democracy/Social choice theory.
Gaus I 147
Dryzek: [social chice theory] (...) provides a set of warnings about what democratic politics could be
like if political actors behaved in Homo economicus fashion, and ifno mechanisms existed to curb these behavioural proclivities and their consequences. Deliberative democracy provides both a communicative paradigm of personhood and mechanisms to bring Homo economicus and his interactions under control (a non-deliberative alternative can be found in Shepsle's 1979(1) idea of structure-induced equilibrium).
Now, social choice theorists can still try to pour cold water over deliberation because it is easy to
demonstrate that the very conditions of free access, equality, and unrestricted communication conducive to authentic deliberation are exactly the conditions conducive to instability, arbitrariness, and so strategic manipulation (van Mill, 1996(2); see also Grofman, 1993(3): 1578; Knight and Johnson, 1994)(4).
VsVs: Deliberative democrats can reply that there are mechanisms intrinsic to deliberation that act to structure preferences in ways that solve social choice problems (Dryzek and List, 2003(5)). For
example, deliberation can disaggregate a dimension on which preferences are non-single-peaked (one major cause of cycles across three or more alternatives that are at the root of the kind of instability Riker identifies) into several dimensions on each of which single-peakedness prevails (Miller, 1992)(6).
VsDemocracy: To the extent this deliberative reply succeeds, then the social choice critique undermines only an aggregative account of democracy in which all actors behave strategically, and can actually be deployed to show why deliberation is necessary.


1. Shepsle, Kenneth (1979) 'Institutional arrangements and equilibrium in multidimensional voting models'. American Journal of Political Science, 23:27—60.
2. Van Mill, David (1996) 'The possibility of rational outcomes from democratic discourse and procedures'. Journal of Politics, 58:734-52.
3. Grofman, Bernard (1993) 'Public choice, civic republicanism, and American politics: perspectives of a "reasonable choice" modeler'. Texas Law Review, 71: 1541-87.
4. Knight, Jack and James Johnson (1994) 'Aggregation and Deliberation: On the possibility of democratic legitimacy'. Political Theory, 22: 277-96.
5. Dryzek, John S. and Christian List (2003) 'Social choice theory and deliberative democracy: a reconciliation'. British Journal of Politica1 Science, 33: 1-28.
6. Miller, David (1992) 'Deliberative democracy and social choice'. Political Studies, 40 (special issue): 54—67.

Dryzek, John S. 2004. „Democratic Political Theory“. In: Gaus, Gerald F. & Kukathas, Chandran 2004. Handbook of Political Theory. SAGE Publications


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Explanation of symbols: Roman numerals indicate the source, arabic numerals indicate the page number. The corresponding books are indicated on the right hand side. ((s)…): Comment by the sender of the contribution. Translations: Dictionary of Arguments
The note [Author1]Vs[Author2] or [Author]Vs[term] is an addition from the Dictionary of Arguments. If a German edition is specified, the page numbers refer to this edition.
Social Choice Theory
Gaus I
Gerald F. Gaus
Chandran Kukathas
Handbook of Political Theory London 2004


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Ed. Martin Schulz, access date 2021-07-27
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