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Positive Political Theory and Decision-making in Environmental Policy: A Model of ‘Distributed Cognition’

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Abstract:

This paper offers a perspective of how social choice theory can be applied to construct a normative model for collaboration between experts and laymen in environmental policy decision-making.

Drawing on recent literatures in social choice theory / theory of judgment aggregation, I illustrate how the idea of ‘distributed cognition’, recently discussed also in sociology, law, computer science and the philosophy of science, illuminates insights on allocating judgmental power between experts and laymen. My discussion is structured as follows. First, I introduce a generalized problem for collective decision-making involving aggregation of judgments on multiple inter-connected propositions – the ‘discursive dilemma’ – which denies the logical possibility of any aggregation rule satisfying the conditions of universal domain, majoritarianism and collective rationality. Second, I describe how the ‘discursive dilemma’ may be avoided by relaxing any of the three conditions, plus the normative implications of each of these escape routes. Third, I argue that, in making collective environmental decisions, there are good reasons to uphold the following normative considerations: (1) procedural legitimacy; (2) epistemic quality of decisions; and (3) robust collective rationality. Fourth, I suggest that a ‘distributed premise-based procedure’ is the most desirable aggregation rule which circumvents the ‘discursive dilemma’ while satisfying the above three normative considerations simultaneously. The upshot is a mechanism for making collective environmental decisions based on a model of ‘distributed cognition’, which involves proposition-wise distribution of judgmental power between experts and laymen.

The theoretical foundation of such mechanism offers a starting point for institutionalizing democracy for environmental policy making in practice.

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make (6), decis (6), collect (5), distribut (5), environment (5), aggreg (4), normat (4), theori (4), judgment (4), cognit (3), model (3), decision-mak (3), expert (3), scienc (3), discurs (3), laymen (3), dilemma (3), polici (3), mechan (2), 1 (2), involv (2),
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Name: Southern Political Science Association
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http://www.spsa.net


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URL: http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p455810_index.html
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MLA Citation:

Wong, James. "Positive Political Theory and Decision-making in Environmental Policy: A Model of ‘Distributed Cognition’" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Southern Political Science Association, Hotel InterContinental, New Orleans, Louisiana, Jan 05, 2011 <Not Available>. 2014-11-26 <http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p455810_index.html>

APA Citation:

Wong, J. K. , 2011-01-05 "Positive Political Theory and Decision-making in Environmental Policy: A Model of ‘Distributed Cognition’" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Southern Political Science Association, Hotel InterContinental, New Orleans, Louisiana Online <PDF>. 2014-11-26 from http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p455810_index.html

Publication Type: Conference Paper/Unpublished Manuscript
Review Method: Peer Reviewed
Abstract: This paper offers a perspective of how social choice theory can be applied to construct a normative model for collaboration between experts and laymen in environmental policy decision-making.

Drawing on recent literatures in social choice theory / theory of judgment aggregation, I illustrate how the idea of ‘distributed cognition’, recently discussed also in sociology, law, computer science and the philosophy of science, illuminates insights on allocating judgmental power between experts and laymen. My discussion is structured as follows. First, I introduce a generalized problem for collective decision-making involving aggregation of judgments on multiple inter-connected propositions – the ‘discursive dilemma’ – which denies the logical possibility of any aggregation rule satisfying the conditions of universal domain, majoritarianism and collective rationality. Second, I describe how the ‘discursive dilemma’ may be avoided by relaxing any of the three conditions, plus the normative implications of each of these escape routes. Third, I argue that, in making collective environmental decisions, there are good reasons to uphold the following normative considerations: (1) procedural legitimacy; (2) epistemic quality of decisions; and (3) robust collective rationality. Fourth, I suggest that a ‘distributed premise-based procedure’ is the most desirable aggregation rule which circumvents the ‘discursive dilemma’ while satisfying the above three normative considerations simultaneously. The upshot is a mechanism for making collective environmental decisions based on a model of ‘distributed cognition’, which involves proposition-wise distribution of judgmental power between experts and laymen.

The theoretical foundation of such mechanism offers a starting point for institutionalizing democracy for environmental policy making in practice.


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