Criteria for a “good” legislative system?

I’d like to pose a question to everyone in this forum – what are your preferred criteria for a “good” legislative system?

4 Responses

  1. “Good” in the normative sense presupposes political equality; “good” in the epistemic sense presupposes that legislative judgment should be cognitively diverse.


  2. David,

    A while back I had a post that may be relevant to what you are thinking about: Government quality and government selection. The discussion in the comments may also be relevant.


  3. David,

    It would be possible to generate a long list of adjectives that describe a good system (transparent, honest, efficient, descriptively representative, etc.), but I’m not sure of the value of that without indicating their relative importance, as it will always be a balancing act where more of A means less of B.

    But, I can offer a few challenging criteria that are not “standard.”

    1. A good system should encourage seeking win-win options, rather than merely determining the majority preference.
    2. It should have a means for weak minorities to defend themselves against the majority (note I said WEAK minorities, not POWERFUL minorities).
    3.It should encourage fact-finding to establish a base of agreed on facts, prior to decision making.
    4. It should take account of uncertainty and probability, and weigh unintended consequences.


  4. And 4a) it should take account of the interests of future generations and “externalities” — ie those who are affected but have no say in the process. It’s interesting that Rupert Read argues for the creation of a Guardians of the Future council by random selection:

    but I confess I’m not sure why sortition would be the obvious mechanism to create a body charged with this function.


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