Public Deliberation

What is Public Deliberation?

"In deliberative democratic forums participants engage in dialogue with the aim of coming to collective positions on particular issues." - K.C. O'Doherty

"Dialogue and deliberation are innovative processes that help people come together across differences to tackle our most challenging problems. In a time of extreme political partisanship and increased conflict between religious and ethnic groups, teaching, spreading, and supporting the skills of dialogue and deliberation are vital."

"In its most general usage, public deliberation refers to a form of public discussion that seeks collective solutions to challenging social problems. The term “public” refers to ordinary people with an emphasis on the inclusion of groups whose voices are marginalized in political processes and in daily life.... 'Deliberation' refers to a discussion that is informed, value-based, and transformative. Participants should have access to balanced, factual information.... Public deliberation is value-based in that it seeks to determine what ought to be done in response to a particular issue—a challenge that requires citizens to identify, clarify, and weigh the tensions among their views and the values underlying them; justify them to others; and set priorities.... People learn from one another, gain insight into their own and alternative positions, and may revise their views as a result." - Blacksher E, Diebel A, Forest P-G, Goold SD, Abelson J. What is Public Deliberation? Hastings Center Report 42(2):14-17. March-April 2012.

In other words, before any decisions are made, public deliberations allow various voices, interests, and opinions to be heard in order to make that decisions. Public deliberations also allow consideration for all of the costs and trade-offs that might be accepted or rejected by others.

Deliberation includes learning about an issue. Deliberation also provides time for reasoning and reflection and promotes considering the knowledge and values of others. Deliberation may be appropriate when: a) the informed opinions of non-experts provide important information experts do not have, b) informed opinions are difficult to obtain; c) individual opinions will benefit from group discussion and insight; and/or d) group judgments are relevant, for instance when decisions affect groups or communities.