Sunstein argues that democratic theory has recently rested its normative claims on a vast but empirically uninformed optimism about the ability of collective deliberation to lead to morally and rationally better decisions. Once that question is considered empirically, he argues, deliberation turns out to be mixed at best, and a disaster at worst. I want to suggest that Sunstein exaggerates the claims of the deliberative democrats, and interprets the empirical literature against deliberation in a way that appears, even based on his own descriptions of the studies, to be unfairly biased against the value of deliberation.

Theoria

A Journal of Social and Political Theory

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