Agreeing to pay under value disagreement: Reconceptualizing preference transformation in terms of pluralism with evidence from small-group deliberations on climate change
Plural values contribute to multiple arrays of expressed preferences. Conventionally, preference convergence toward consensus among initially disagreeing decision makers is understood in terms of diminishing value differences. A cogent account of consensual decision that respects non-diminishing value plurality is lacking. Instead there is a theoretic expectation for categorical consistency between subjective values and expressed preferences. Valuing agents in social interaction are expected to indicate identical preference orderings only if they hold correspondingly identical categories of values. This expectation precludes meaningful conceptualization of preference convergence under divisive normative dispositions. An alternative framework is proposed and illustrated by results from a designed deliberative forum on Australia's climate change policy. Data were analyzed based on Q methodology. Results show that small-group deliberations enabled effective communication between distinctive subjective positions and broadened understandings between individuals. While a consensual decision gained progress, no identified value discourse diminished below a significant degree. Observed changes in values did not run parallel to the converging preferences, suggesting a decline in value-preference consistency. These changes nonetheless are amenable to the principle of value pluralism. An alternative rationality concept is needed to account for this moral ideal within economics.
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