Saturday, July 16, 2005

What is Consensus?

What is Consensus? The issue seems vastly important if we are to gain ground in establishing what scholarship actually says about certain issues. I want to know how and where one can validate a claim to consensus? If it's just a feeling gained from interaction with the literature, people and thoughts of those around about a view, that doesn't really seem like a consensus to me at all.

I think scholars must be far more specific in what they are claiming. For example, timing. When did the consensus develop? Who are the major proponents of the consensus? Is the consensus continental or universal? Is the consensus constrained by traditions such as evangelicalism or fundamentalism?

It seems plausible that if a view/position can be shown to be held by a large number of various scholars from various traditions and academic backgrounds and has a reasonable history with several key players going in a certain direction, then a consensus has been established. Of course, this is more vague than specific [making it still unhelpful] but these are the ingredients that a consensus should have.
thouughts and criticisms?

3 comments:

Gareth Naude said...

So what your saying is we need a consensus on what is a consensus

the Finnie's said...

That's great in academic terms, but what ingredients should constitute a consensus amongst the man on the street and his peers?

Sean du Toit said...

I'm not sure Dean, but the first thing I want to ask is "what is the purpose of a consensus?" If the purpose is to bolster and argument or position, then its kinda useless because just because A is a consensus, doesn't mean that A is necessarily true. I find consensus to be actually helpful in describing a situation, if the consensus is accurate, but other than that, I can't see it's pratical value...