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Hartmann, Stephan; Rafiee Rad, Soroush (29. November 2016): Voting, deliberation and truth. In: Synthese: pp. 1-21
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There are various ways to reach a group decision on a factual yes--no question. One way is to vote and decide what the majority votes for. This procedure receives some epistemological support from the Condorcet Jury Theorem. Alternatively, the group members may prefer to deliberate and will eventually reach a decision that everybody endorses---a consensus. While the latter procedure has the advantage that it makes everybody happy (as everybody endorses the consensus), it has the disadvantage that it is difficult to implement, especially for larger groups. Besides, the resulting consensus may be far away from the truth. And so we ask: Is deliberation truth-conducive in the sense that majority voting is? To address this question, we construct a highly idealized model of a particular deliberation process, inspired by the movie Twelve Angry Men, and show that the answer is `yes'. Deliberation procedures can be truth-conducive just as the voting procedure is. We then explore, again on the basis of our model and using agent-based simulations, under which conditions it is better epistemically to deliberate than to vote. Our analysis shows that there are contexts in which deliberation is epistemically preferable and we will provide reasons for why this is so.