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Reconciling Technocracy and Democracy: A Model of Distributed Cognition for Collective Environmental Decision-making

James Wong
The London School of Economics & Political Science
James Wong
The London School of Economics & Political Science
Open Panel

Abstract

In this paper, I discuss how ‘distributed cognition’, a well-attended concept in law, sociology, computer science and the philosophy of science, may be used for developing a model for collective environmental decision-making which aims at reconciling the tension between technocracy and democracy. Drawing on works on social choice theory / theory of judgment aggregation, I show how we can determine a benchmark for a theoretically workable model based on certain normative desiderata of environmental decision-making. Next, I illustrate what options are available upon fulfilling the benchmark. The upshot is that a model based on distributed cognition is logically possible and normatively desirable, which appropriately balances the demands of inclusion and equality as in democracy with maximizing overall epistemic performance as in technocracy. The sound theoretical foundation of such model provides us with a justifiable starting point for institutionalizing democracy for collective environmental decision-making in practice.