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March 27, 2008


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Uzair Kayani

Hi Professor Bandes,

These are very interesting papers. I see three prominent veiwpoints (ignoring the rational weigher):

(1) Emotions reflecting cognitive biases: that emotions are baises that skew risk cognition, so that risk control should be entrusted to experts who are less susceptible to emotions;

(2) Emotions reflecting static cultural values: that emotions constitute (or reflect) social identity, and in a participatory democracy, the society's identity (that is, in part, its emotions) must inform its risk control choices (maybe "framing the argument" is a way of avoiding conflicts between societal identity and optimal risk perception);

(3) Emotions reflecting dynamic values: that even if emotions constitute social identity, that identity is shifting rather than static, so that framing arguments to avoid society-wide emotional conflicts is short-sighted. Experts will do what they can for now and society's identity will change from time to time, through a free exchange of ideas.

I'm not sure what role "participatory democracy" plays here. Experts aren't really anti-democratic (see appointment and removal powers, inter alia). Conversely, "framing" risk cognition for the public isn't particularly democratic (someone has to do the framing).

Also, the point of devices like republican government, bicameralism, life tenure, and age restrictions for officeholders is to restrict emotional or other factional influences (see, e.g., Fed 10). When we are so skeptical of "passions" in devising a form of government, why would we be so open to them when it comes to risk cognition?

Joan A. Conway

Participatory Democracy is the development, intervention, evolution, and integration of farmers and/or freed slaves, and farmers/peasants, into national life as a goal of the American Revolution.

Family bonds based on blood had to give way to a new value system that demanded a split between their emotions and ability to labor with strangers.

The freed slave and farmer began to want the social advantages and physical improvements identified with technology, schools, roads, electricity, health facilities, all things he can be by manipulating the political process. Some by migrating to the North from the South, and some by moving to the cities from the farms and rural countryside.

As the farmers and/or freed slaves had their general wants satisfied, they began to organize more specialized functional interest associations to accomplish the particular goals which they as individuals or specific members of the political society may desire, as opposed to the specialized goals of their neighbors.

This assimilation of the farmer and/or freed slave into national life made him aware of the possibilities of government aid because of his lack of opportunities to share work, educational, sports, and even religious experiences with another farmer and/or freed slave.

Emotions would hold them back from the development of man into a participatory demoncracy based on their personal biases and fear of strangers.

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