Truth has ever originated from the conflict of mind with mind; it is the bright spark that emanates from the collision of opposing ideas.

—Herbert Spencer. The Proper Sphere of Government, 1842–1843.

When people are required to articulate their thinking, it forces them to clarify their thoughts; when their thinking is subject to criticism, it forces them to bring their thinking into accord with reason. This is why the cut and thrust of the adversarial system is so adept at reaching the truth. Mistakes and error are cut away, wrongheaded notions are duly dispatched with scorn, and what survives the process is truth. This is why juries are required to deliberate. In the jury room jurors must each justify their position. When a juror finds his reasons revealed to be faulty, he is compelled to change his mind.

As it is in the jury room, so should it be in the legislature. Every piece of legislation should be thoroughly debated. In this way the faults and dangers of each law can be explored and its wisdom weighed. The opposite end of the spectrum is a dictator in his bunker ordering around non-existent divisions, still convinced of the infallibility of his personal genius.

This article is an extract from the book ‘Principles of Good Government’ by Matthew Bransgrove