Collective Competence in Deliberative Groups: On the Epistemological Foundation of Democracy

Project: Research

Layman's description

Suppose a decision-making body (jury, committee etc) is to deliberate on some issue, e.g. whether the accused in a trial is guilty. This is a fundamental democratic procedure that takes place every day. But how reliable is such a body? And what factors determine its reliability? This project studies the epistemology of voting after deliberation and contrasts it with independent voting.

Does deliberation increase the quality of group discussions?

Reaching a decision after group discussion is a fundamental democratic process taking place everyday in committies and expert groups in all open societies. The question, however, is how competent is such a group and hur reliable is the discussion process itself? How often is the result really correct according to some objective standard? Moreover, one could ask what is more reliable: voting independently, that is without discussing the matter first, or voting after discussion? It is by no means evident that the latter is better since group discussion may trigger various forms of group think and herd behaviour.

The reliability of independent voting has been carefully studied from a theoretical perspective since Nicolas de Condorcet, who proved, by means of probability theory, that majority decisions after independent voting are, under certain conditions, a reliable process. Unfortunately, there is o corresponding justification for majority decisions after group discussion. The main question addressed in this project is whether there is a remedy for this state of affairs.

The project contains two preparatory theoretical studies where we study the relationship between 1) group size and competence and 2) communication structure and competence. The starting point will be a theoretical discussion model which was developed by Staffan Angere and Erik J. Olsson in earlier work (Laputa).
Effective start/end date2013/01/012016/12/31


Related research output

Angere, S. & Erik J Olsson, 2017, Scientific Collaboration and Collective Knowledge. Boyer, T., Mayo-Wilson, C. & Weisberg, M. (eds.). Oxford University Press, p. 34-62 29 p.

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingBook chapter

Angere, S., Erik J Olsson & Emmanuel Genot, 2015, Interrogative Models of Inquiry : Developments in Inquiry and Questions. Baskent, C. (ed.). Springer

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingBook chapter

Hansen, J. U., 2014, In : Proceedings of the 9th Scandinavian Logic Symposium.

Research output: Contribution to journalPublished meeting abstract

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