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NCDD-DISCUSSION  February 2008, Week 4

NCDD-DISCUSSION February 2008, Week 4

Subject:

Re: Societal and cultural effects of broad consensus

From:

Michael Allan <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Michael Allan <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Sun, 24 Feb 2008 04:23:55 -0500

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (121 lines)

Ken Bausch wrote:
> In Structured Dialogic Design (SDD), Laouris' (2008) Law of Requisite Action
> states "the capacity of a community of stakeholders to implement a plan of
> action effectively depends strongly on the true engagement of the
> stakeholders in designing it."  It asserts that action plans that are not
> founded on the authentic engagement of the stakeholders in dialogue and
> deliberation are unethical and are bound to fail.  This is one of seven SDD
> laws. If you want a copy of the article, I will send it to you.

I agree with this law, Ken.  It rings true.  Also, other theoreticians
tell me the same: that consensus arises from a process of rational
discourse.  So I've looked at my designs with a critical eye.  Broad
participation and engagement in dialogue (just as you say) are my
design requirements for consensus formation.

My questions to the list lead off from this point.  A deliberate means
of forming broad consensus has never been available to communities.
So its advent raises questions.  I suspect that most people
(addressing myself to the list) will be unable to accept the technical
premises of my questions.  How likely is it that broad consensus
(which I say we've never yet had) is suddenly about to appear?  More
likely I'm just hawking some software.  (Did I mention that it's free
software? :)

I'll take a stab at one of the questions.  The more I read of social
theory, the more I discover points of contact with the technical
design.  Yesterday, I discovered some correlations that allow me to
better address the question of cultural interplay:

> > *(9)* How will cultural effects (8) interplay with societal-communal
> > effects (5)?

(I'll attempt, here, to correlate the development of society based on
the interrelation of ideas and interests *in society*, with the design
of open elections based on the interrelation of ideation and interest
formation *in media*.)

In his review of the historical transition from feudal to modern
society [TCA1 187-200], Habermas analyzes Max Weber's distinction
between *ideas* and *interests*, and how the two interrelate in the
rationalization of life orders.

  ... we can grasp the relation between interests and ideas somewhat
  more precisely.  In the introduction to 'The Economic Ethics of
  World Religions' we find the famous passage that refers implicitly
  to Marx's preface to 'A Contribution to the Critique of Political
  Economy': "Not ideas, but material and ideal interests directly
  govern men's conduct.  Yet very frequently the 'world images'
  created by 'ideas' have, like switchmen, determined the tracks along
  which action has been pushed by the dynamic of interest."
                                                       - [TCA1 193]

Recall that open elections depend on a combination of two media:
a compositional medium (6a), and a consensual medium (6b).
Together they comprise the open electoral medium (6c).

> > (6a) A medium for the collective composition and refinement of
> > cultural objects (texts).  This is a social medium that assumes the
> > structure and dynamics of the society in which it is embedded.
> > Specifically, the structure of the medium is a population, one that
> > mirrors the community of authors...  (Example, recombinant text.)
> > 
> > (6b) A consensual medium that enables individuals (of the community)
> > to freely express their agreement or disagreement with each other by
> > choosing instances from a dynamic population of alternatives ("I like
> > A, you like B", and so on); while simultaneously, at a collective
> > level, it encourages the emergence of an unforced consensus ("sure, I
> > can settle for B, provided you make a few changes...")...  (Example: 
> > delegate cascade voting.)
> > 
> > (6c) A combination of the compositional medium (6a) and the consensual
> > medium (6b).  The consensual medium has the effect of encouraging the
> > population of variant drafts to evolve toward a single draft (if
> > consensus is feasible), or to several co-extant drafts (if not)...

The compositional medium facilitates the formation and expression of
*ideas*, by way of collective recombinant texts.  The consensual
medium facilitates the formation and expression of *interest*, by way
of the collective alignment of votes.  When the two are combined (and
the texts become the objects of voting) the result is a general
purpose medium for the formation and expression of consensus.

How much can we make of this correlation between society and social
media?  Ideas and interests naturally combine and grow in society to
yield the 'social forms of life'.  Likewise, they combine and grow in
the open electoral medium, but there to yield a consensus.  In its
nascent form, the consensus is small (as small as 2 people).
Subsequently, it grows.  Possibly, it grows to reach the scale of the
community itself.  If its mature form is political in nature, then it
is actualized in the political sphere (as either an actor, action or
law) according to the principle of sovereign consensus.  Otherwise, if
it is non-political in nature, then it may be actualized according to
other principles of consensus actualization (yet to be stated) that
operate in other spheres.  (We have yet to predict the effect, within
its own sphere, of a consensus that is economically, culturally or
communitally oriented.)

So the open electoral medium models (through correlates such as these)
the essential structure and function of societal development.
Further, it is an augmentive medium that embeds itself in the fabric
of societal communities.  Is there a sense, then, in which this medium
could function as a cradle of societies?  Could it facilitate,
accelerate, enhance, or otherwise affect societal development?

(I'll refine this analysis as I read further into the theory.  If
anyone is interested in following it, the latest version will be at:

  http://zelea.com/project/votorola/a/design.xht#ca-idea-interest

Is this a promising approach?  Can anyone shed further light on any of
these questions?

-- 
Michael Allan

http://zelea.com/

---

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