Deliberation, preference uncertainty, and voting rules

David Austen-Smith*, Timothy J. Feddersen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

147 Scopus citations


A deliberative committee is a group of at least two individuals who first debate about what alternative to choose prior to these same individuals voting to determine the choice. We argue, first, that uncertainty about individuals' private preferences is necessary for full information sharing and, second, demonstrate in a very general setting that the condition under which unanimity can support full information revelation in debate amounts to it being common knowledge that all committee members invariably share identical preferences over the alternatives. It follows that if ever there exists an equilibrium with fully revealing debate under unanimity rule, there exists an equilibrium with fully revealing debate under any voting rule. Moreover, the converse is not true of majority rule if there is uncertainty about individuals' preferences.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)209-217
Number of pages9
JournalAmerican Political Science Review
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 1 2006

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Political Science and International Relations


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