Measuring moral acceptability in E-deliberation: A practical application of ethics by participation

Ilse Verdiesen, Virginia Dignum, Jeroen Van Den Hoven

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Current developments in governance and policy setting are challenging traditional top-down models of decision-making. Whereas, on the one hand, citizens are increasingly demanding and expected to participate directly on governance questions, social networking platforms are, on the other hand, increasingly providing podia for the spread of unfounded, extremist and/or harmful ideas. Participatory deliberation is a form of democratic policy making in which deliberation is central to decision-making using both consensus decision-making and majority rule. However, by definition, it will lead to socially accepted results rather than ensuring the moral acceptability of the result. In fact, participation per se offers no guidance regarding the ethics of the decisions taken, nor does it provide means to evaluate alternatives in terms of their moral "quality." This article proposes an open participatory model, Massive Open Online Deliberation (MOOD), that can be used to solve some of the current policy authority deficits. MOOD taps on individual understanding and opinions by harnessing open, participatory, crowd-sourced, and wiki-like methodologies, effectively producing collective judgements regarding complex political and social issues in real time. MOOD offers the opportunity for people to develop and draft collective judgements on complex issues and crises in real time. MOOD is based on the concept of Ethics by Participation, a formalized and guided process of moral deliberation that extends deliberative democracy platforms to identify morally acceptable outcomes and enhance critical thinking and reflection among participants.

Original languageEnglish
Article number43
JournalACM Transactions on Internet Technology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • Ethics by participation
  • Online deliberation
  • Participatory systems


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