The dissensus or minority opinion is the reaction or objection to the consensus position.

may differ in form

It may be stated in a form quite differently than the consensus that it opposes. For instance, it may simply be a statement of other positions that were rejected as ways to deal with a common issue statement. A dissensus can be viewed as a potential alternate consensus that would have to be accepted or at least considered very seriously if the main path fails.

Whether explicitly documented or not,
it always exists, though in some naive forms of consensus decision making it is silenced to create the illusion of unanimity. This is always unwise: keeping tabs on who objects, why and what problems were anticipated is the cornerstone of accountability and anticipatory democracy:

cognitive and Green views

Greens advocate for instance ecological wisdom that by its nature is necessarily known only to a small number of people. They advocate that this have status in law, e.g. the Precautionary Principle. This is impossible if a dissensus is not recorded or used to criticize or monitor the ongoing progress of the majority or consensus view. See cognitive politics for more on the role of expertise in decision making.


An IPA structure helps make dissensus visible and gives it full status so that some faction or even just a lone champion can keep it alive - allow it to grow over time. Even after a decision is made, the reasoning can then be re-examined, in case assumptions in that decision turn out to have been wrong.

The Efficient Civics Guild does not recognize a position unless there is an alternative position with at least one argument for it over the other.

US view

In the United States, minority opinion of the Supreme Court have status in law, and can be cited as precedents in cases where the rationale they cite is more applicable than the rationale cited in the majority opinion issued by most of the Court. When decisions are overturned, the dissensus and consensus change roles, and it becomes important for people to know how the tradeoffs were made and why, so they continue to believe in the stability of the overall decision system.

OPIF view

With open politics in force, the dissensus becomes the standard for the evaluation of the success/failure of the consensus process. Unless some viable and convincing dissensus has been explored, there can be no such thing as a consensus. Unanimity is not consensus as a direct consequence of this requirement: it signals the lack of a viable alternate position and lack of courage to challenge the dominant position.

Christian view

The Trial of Jesus as presented in the New Testament provides some background for the OPIF/ECG view. Jewish religious courts, the Sanhedrin, could not condemn anyone under a unanimous verdict, as this was understood as proof that the condemned had not received a fair trial. The gospels make a point of this unanimity and many other unfair and illegal aspects of Jesus' trial, such as it being held at night, and resulting in a death penalty that under Jewish law could not be applied.

The Book of Revelation similarly predicted that Anti-Christ would be unanimously accepted by all powerful people as the Messiah. The dissensus position of those who refuse to recognize him is therefore that of the truly faithful Christian.

Accordingly, all of Christianity can be understood as an expression of the dissensus principle as much as on its traditional key virtue, forgiveness.