Mitigating the Tyranny of Public Opinion:

Anonymous Discourse and the Ethic of Sincerity


Timur Kuran



Public opinion breeds tyranny by forcing individuals to refrain from voicing their genuine thoughts and feelings. The means used to mitigate such tyranny include the separation of governmental powers, the ethic of tolerance, and the secret ballot. Yet neither individually nor collectively do these devices prevent the emergence and persistence of social taboos. This paper proposes two additional corrective devices. One is an electronic instrument that would enable public officials to deliberate on socially sensitive matters behind a veil of anonymity. The other is an ethic that would enhance the utility citizens derive from truthfulness on political matters.
 

Constitutional Political Economy, 3 (Winter 1993): 41-74