On the elusive notion of meta-agreement

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Public deliberation has been defended as a rational and noncoercive way to overcome paradoxical results from democratic voting, by promoting consensus on the available alternatives on the political agenda. Some critics have argued that full consensus is too demanding and inimical to pluralism and have pointed out that single-peakedness, a much less stringent condition, is sufficient to overcome voting paradoxes. According to these accounts, deliberation can induce single-peakedness through the creation of a ‘meta-agreement’, that is, agreement on the dimension according to which the issues at stake are ‘conceptualized’. We argue here that once all the conditions needed for deliberation to bring about single-peakedness through meta-agreement are unpacked and made explicit, meta-agreement turns out to be a highly demanding condition, and one that is very inhospitable to pluralism
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