In the previous chapter I sought to justify democracy as a form of government in terms of the requirement to attend to common interests that would otherwise be neglected. The argument moved from the need to institute protection from arbitrary government through a thought-experiment about the most plausible alternative to democracy to considerations of political equality under conditions of human fallibility. This last point has particular implications. The principle that any conception of government needs to recognize the fallible character of human judgement is especially related to that class of goods that I have identified as distinctively political, involving the provision of institutions to settle disagreements in situations where a common policy is essential. If there are disputes about the supply of public and primary goods, and if each member of society has an interest in the peaceful and civilized resolution of those disputes, then no one person or group of persons will have sufficient knowledge to secure the right answer to any particular problem. Some form of public reasoning about feasible alternatives, involving citizens in general, will have to be instituted. From this point of view, the problems of politics are problems of deliberation. That is to say, where there are differences of opinion about what collectively is to be done, then some set of institutions will be necessary to deliberate about the different points of view that are advanced. Just as individuals confronted with the need to make a practical choice in the face of conflicting reasons will need to deliberate on the relative strength and force of those reasons, so the members of a political community will need to deliberate about their common course of action in the face of competing opinions.
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