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October 31, 2016


Sam Taylor

Deliberative democracy is a great idea in theory, but I've always felt that it'll never happen because people entirely lack the incentives to become informed, since their vote is but one of many and counts precisely as much as that of someone who is uninformed. Better information not leading to better consequences. I don't really see how one solves this collective action problem without violating some kind of fundamental democratic right.

Igor Belanov

This just sounds smug and intellectually snobbish.

How are you to verify which arguments are rational or not? You'd require some kind of Reithian elite 'educating' people to behave and act in the appropriate fashion.

Politics might well look and sound like the circus at times, but you can't turn what is a clash of interests and outlooks into some kind of examination process or Oxford Union debate.


@ Igor - I don't think it unreasonable to want to 'educate' people (it's not a dirty word btw)...
With the right information (via the media doing their jobs properly) and a critical eye (via education), people can make their own 'rational' decision based on their own view of the world. And aggregating that view (in a vote, say) should in theory lead to the right decision for the collective good of the electorate.
This, I think, is what is argued for and it's nothing to do with 'intellectual snobs' telling people what to do, it's about proper information and reasoned debate leading to informed decisions. And we don't have that, thus the frustration...


Really poor effort by your normally high standards. Your definition of reasonable is people who agree with you and fanatics people you don't like.

Please let me never live in a country set by your rules.


@ Cityunslicker - that might be bad writing on my part. There are fanatics on my side - eg some Remainers who have a romantic view of the "European ideal", and very many lefties who eg exaggerate the scope for taxing the rich or under-rate the problems of transitioning to socialism. It's just that the fanatics who oppose me have won - and I prefer to punch up than down.

Igor Belanov

@ Chris B

"This, I think, is what is argued for and it's nothing to do with 'intellectual snobs' telling people what to do, it's about proper information and reasoned debate leading to informed decisions."

How on earth do you define 'proper information and reasoned debate'? Is it in the dictionary? What I'm saying is that by making this your benchmark you are effectively asking for some sort of elite to supervise or enforce particular types of behaviour, which they will ultimately be the arbiter of.


What about fanatics who have frequent access to the highest level of government, and who also pay people to go to opposition rallies and deliberately start fights? Is that better or worse than slagging off Carney (who IMHO is no worse than King, they both believe in keeping share/house prices up come what may)?


@Igor Yes fair point 'proper information' is a terrible term on my part. What I really mean is factually correct information...but you're right, even if everything in the media were demonstrably true, someone needs to be the arbiter of it to get it out into the public domain. And I think your point is that if this responsibility was given to our oh-so-reasonable clever folks, they too would become corrupted themselves and twist available information to only push the causes they believe in ('cos they know best). I don't necessarily believe that myself and would be hopeful it's better than what we have now, but who knows.
Going back to this post though, it is essentially about allowing ordinary folks to do at least a high-level cost/benefit analysis when being asked to contribute their opinion (in a referendum for example), and I don't think that happens as best it could.


This is a poor one. I think you have forgotten that facts are not always simple or easy to discover and need to be interpreted which intrudes an element of bias even in an ideal world. Also arguments about brexit and other issues involve competing visions of the world that have no objectively right answer but involve value judgements. Uncertainty characterises economic decisions, which makes it impossible to answer the question how much will you sacrifice for achieving your goals as the cost if any is unquantifiable.


@ Keith - of course facts are elusive and uncertainty is ubiquitous. But these important points just bolster my point, that fanaticism must be avoided.
I agree that Brexit isn't a mere economic calculus but also a matter of values. But it's the mark of a fanatic that he allows values to affect judgments about fact. There's a massive difference between someone who says "I support Brexit because I want the UK to become a sovereign country even though this will hurt the economy a little" and someone who denies any downside. I disagree with the former position, but see that it is a reasonable, non-fanatical position. It is also a rare one.

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