Who ever tried to conduct real life deliberation, knows it is a messy bussines. People want to talk in the same time, many options are raised and the topics fly in an abstract way. I find that even highly experienced facilitators find it hard to produce agreements and decisions in reasonable time.
To make sense of the process of deliberation, Iâ€™ll suggest that we have to understand the basic elements that deliberation is made of. The idea of finding the elements of deliberation is not new. From the turn of the century, scholars tried to defined these elements (eg. Black et al 2011). The understanding of the elements is crucial for successful research. Every field of science need a corroborate paradigm to evolve. As a theorist and practitioner of deliberation, I found Balck’ et al. defenition of the elements, intersting, yet I find it lacking many elements needed for doing real life deliberation and creating apps for deliberation. As we now aim at creating apps for deliberation (delib.org), we need a more accurate paradigm of elements. In the following months, as we progress with our designing of the app, we will need to relay upon a good theory. And this is what we are going to do. We will write down a theory about the elements in a public domain of delib-democracy.org and we will ask you, members of the community of deliberation to help us falsefy the theory by giving criticism, contemplating and suggesting better theories.
To follow the discussion, please follow this blog, or register to delib-democracy.org (please send me email to register: firstname.lastname@example.org).
P.S: As my English is not the state of the art, I will realy appriciate if sombdy can profread the blog and the wiki.
In the model I suggest that there are five levels of elements. There is the level of mental elements (the element of doing the calculation of decision making in the brain). The group elements (Who are the stakeholders, and what are the common needs and interests). The communication elements which deals with how the different properties of the lines of communication influence the communication between members of deliberation. For example, when we use face to face communication only one member can talk, otherwise the noise will be too scramble to effectively communicate. On the other hand, face to face commination help better transfer social communication like gestures and intonations.
On the next level we will find the psychological elements. When people are at different psychological states, they will evaluate knowledge differently.
Above the psychological level there is the social level. Different social situations will result different behaviors. For instance, in a close Homogeneous group, groupthink and group polarization may result.
In this post and in the coming posts, I will suggest bit by bit, the elements and the levels, we will discuss them.
Here is the first proposal: the mental elements: please deliberate 🙂
The Mental Elements
For the wikipage look here.
I will suggest that decision making have several mental elements that works together to produce a decision. These are the elements:
Need: every decision starts with a need or needs. Need is a biological process in the brain, signaling that there is a lack of some resources. The resources may be physical resources or emotional resources. From a psychological perspective see Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.
Options: A need can be fulfilled in many ways. Every way is an â€œoptionâ€.
Mental Objects Network: The options are implementation of theories the brain holds about the world. These theories are connected with each other and describe how the world works and what we can do to change our surrounding. We use these theories to change the surrounding so our needs will be fulfilled. The network of theories is built from mental objects representing of the world, and therefore will be called Mental Objects Network (MON). For further explanation, see epistemology.
Outcomes: For every â€˜â€™optionâ€™â€™ there are outcomes. Some of the outcomes may fulfill the â€˜â€™needâ€™â€™, and some may have side effects.
Value: The outcomes have an effect on our physical or emotional resources. They carry a value. The value may be rewarding, neutral or taxing. The Magnitude of the value can also vary from none to fatal in taxing value or from none to overwhelming good, in positive values.
Probability of success: Every option has some chances to succeed. Every option is constructed from cascade of events, and every event has some probability to happen. It may depend on the known probabilities of event to happen (for instance we may assume that our chances of winning the lottery has a probability of 1 to a million), or the level of corroboration (the amount of times we tested the theory). The more we corroborated the theory we may have more confidence we can predict her chance to occur (from epistemological perspective we do not have any way to predict the future, bet letâ€™s leave this for now). Consequently, when an option has many steps (events that should occur in order for her to succeed), or/and when the events are not well tested, the probability of success fall.
Resources: For every action, which is based on the option we selected, there is a tax on our resources. Before we evaluate an options, we should also consider how much resources do we have, and if we have the specific resources needed for the option.
Evaluation: When we have to choose from a set of options, we should evaluate every option total outcomes values, the resource it demands, and the probability of success.
Selection: We should compere the total value of every options and choose the best value. Yet for many reasons we will discusses later, we may not evaluate at all, or choose the option we are more familiar with, even if there are better options
Conjecture, Falsification & Corroboration: Theories are built and change throughout our entire life. We learn from others, or we conjecture about how things works. We may then test the theories, and see if they are false or corroborate (see Karl popper on terminology).
Black, L. W., Burkhalter, S., Gastil, J., & Stromer-Galley, J. (2011). Methods for analyzing and measuring group deliberation. Sourcebook of Political Communication Research: Methods, Measures, and Analytical Techniques, 323â€“345.