FRAL - Programme franco-allemand en Sciences humaines et sociales

Collective Attitude Formation – ColAForm

Submission summary

The formation of group “attitudes” – be they group beliefs or group preferences – occupies a central role in human societies. This is especially true in democratic societies (where a lots of collective decisions are supposed to be based on citizens’ preferences) and in societies where knowledge is massively distributed (where experts’ opinions are requested). One may distinguish two stages in the formation of group attitudes: group deliberation and aggregation of the group members' attitudes. The deliberative stage, in which information and opinions are exchanged between the group members, serves often two goals. First, deliberation leads the group to agree on the objects of interest, i.e., the propositions on which beliefs are to be formed or the choice alternatives between which preferences are to be formed. Second, deliberation leads each individual to make up his or her own mind, i.e., to form his or her own attitudes (beliefs or preferences) with regards to the objects of interest. After the group has identified the objects of interest and the individuals have formed their attitudes, the group proceeds to the aggregative stage in which the individuals' attitudes are merged into group attitudes, for instance through a formal voting procedure. The literature has traditionally treated each stage in isolation, by either ignoring the other stage or, in the worst case, denying its importance. Indeed, standard social choice theory is almost exclusively concerned with aggregation, ignoring the deliberative stage and taking the decision problem (i.e., the objects of interest) and the group members' attitudes as exogenously given. On the opposite, the theory of deliberative democracy in political science often assumes or defends the (unrealistic) claim that deliberation will produce so much agreement among group members that aggregation is no longer needed. The “Collective Attitude Formation” (ColAForm) project aims to address and reconcile both stages – deliberation and aggregation - of attitude formation. The goal of the project is both to understand how deliberation can be better geared towards aggregation, and to enrich current models of belief and preference aggregation to make them more amenable to the outcomes of deliberation. There is currently a very high concentration of leading scholars working in France and Germany on aggregation and deliberation. By bringing them together, the ColAForm project will seize this unique opportunity of bridging the two research communities. This will involve three main tasks combining researchers from both countries. The first two tasks will be devoted to deliberation and aggregation respectively, and the third task will be to synthesize the findings of the first two, by combining general philosophical considerations and a case study (on IPCC).

Project coordination

Cozic Mikaël (Université Paris-Est Créteil)

The author of this summary is the project coordinator, who is responsible for the content of this summary. The ANR declines any responsibility as for its contents.


UPEC Université Paris-Est Créteil
Universität Bayreuth

Help of the ANR 227,331 euros
Beginning and duration of the scientific project: September 2017 - 36 Months

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