Political Communication and the Epistemic Value of Diversity: Deliberation and Legitimation in Media Societies


James Bohman; e-mail: bohmanjf@slu.edu


By employing the theory of deliberative democracy, Habermas provides a critical assessment of the effects of the media on citizens’ deliberation. His premises, if modified, can also supply the basis for a positive argument for dispersing media power more widely as a way to improve deliberative practices. Contrary to Habermas, however, the epistemic dimension of deliberation should be cast in terms of error avoidance rather than “truth tracking.” Error avoidance is best achieved through the availability of the full range of social perspectives. On empirical and normative grounds, deliberation in heterogeneous groups is the best means for avoiding cognitive errors and biases and for improving the quality of political communication.