Volume 1, Issue 3, Fall 1994
Michael K. Briand
Democratic Public Judgment
The Role of “Mutual Comprehension”
The need to choose between good things in conflict lies at the heart of politics. Only citizens deliberating together can authoritatively form the democratic public judgment necessary to resolve such conflicts. The key step to arriving at a sound widely supported public judgment is getting all members of the public to “comprehend”---to understand and appreciate---the goods in conflict. Mutual comprehension enables us to combine our individual perspectives without loss, thereby providing the basis for collective deliberation. Such comprehension is essential because the mutual respect between citizens upon which democratic politics depends is impossible without it. Mutual comprehension is possible because we share a common human nature that, despite our manifest and irreducible differences is built around a limited and universal set of human needs and dispositions.