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Political Economy and Public Policy Paper
Group deliberation and the transformation of judgments: an impossibility result
Christian List
March 2007
Paper No' PEPP 26:
Full Paper (pdf)

JEL Classification: D70; D71

Tags: group deliberation; judgment aggregation; judgment transformation; belief revision

While a large social-choice-theoretic literature discusses the aggregation of individual judgments into collective ones, there is relatively little formal work on the transformation of individual judgments in group deliberation. I develop a model of judgment transformation and prove a baseline impossibility result: Any judgment transformation function satisfying some initially plausible condition is the identity function, under which no opinion change occurs. I identify escape routes from this impossibility result and argue that successful group deliberation must be ‘holistic’: individuals cannot generally revise their judgments on a proposition based on judgments on that proposition alone but must take other propositions into account too. I discuss the significance of these findings for democratic theory.