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« Might we have gotten it wrong about democracy? | Main | If not democracy, then what? »

February 15, 2008


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Ron Lubensky

I think it is needless to expect any individual to understand everything. As an academic and practitioner exploring deliberative democracy, I recently advised a local council in Australia that convened a citizens jury. Some participants understood the local planning issues better than others, but it was the whole group dynamic, with the help of facilitation that promoted mutual respect, openness and self-reflection, that was able to make recommendations which clearly represented the community sentiment. So content-issue complexity should be matched by participatory processes which in themselves allow for complex and non-deterministic dynamics. Oh, and it's not all about science either--people's "feelings" do matter as they can serve as an entry point for rational discourse.

George Mobus

No argument from me on anything you've said. When it works it works. But more often it seems to not work. Then we have to ask why not.

I don't believe I said or claimed that every individual had to understand everything. What I did say is that to make informed decisions you definitely need to have some understanding.

But I am a proponent of Systems Science as a basic knowledge framework for everyone passing through the public education system. A healthy understanding of systems is an excellent scaffold to use to come to understanding any number of things in this world - to be a quick study in many area. In my mind the ideal citizen will have a strong sense of systemness and be able to understand the systemic nature of most real issues in this world.

Lack of inherent wisdom or sapience and lack of understanding connectivity and dynamics, as I observe, are the greatest cause of failure for discourse and deliberation to proceed.

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