Group Communication and the Transformation of Judgments: An Impossibility Result

Journal of Political Philosophy 19 (1):1-27 (2011)
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Abstract

While a large social-choice-theoretic literature discusses the aggregation of individual judgments into collective ones, there is much less formal work on the transformation of judgments in group communication. I develop a model of judgment transformation and prove a baseline impossibility theorem: Any judgment transformation function satisfying some initially plausible conditions is the identity function, under which no opinion change occurs. I identify escape routes from this impossibility and argue that the kind of group communication envisaged by deliberative democats must be "holistic": It must focus on webs of connected propositions, not on one proposition at a time, which echoes the Duhem-Quine "holism thesis" on scientific theory testing. My approach provides a map of the logical space in which different possible group communication processes are located.

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Christian List
Ludwig Maximilians Universit√§t, M√ľnchen

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