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Dispersed intelligence and possibility of intelligent planning: A Deweyan perspective on rational policy making

Liberal Scholars have often warned that social planning must not be modeled after the image of individual rational choice. Jon Elster issued three indictments against any such attempt: 1. Information and intelligence are dispersed amongst the members of a community, 2. Social policy cannot rely on the equivalent of an ordered preference set like individuals. 3. Societies have no organizational center like individuals. Here I shall concentrate on the first one. I outline how Dewey’s philosophy of intelligent action and democracy could solve the problem of collective intelligent coordination. Instead of relying on mysterious social self-organization, or piecemeal approaches to social planning, Dewey offers a theoretical foundation for intelligent problem-solving on the societal level. His notion of science plays a central role in modelling a pluralistic democratic process capable of avoiding the two extremes of technocracy and disintegration.

Philipp Dorstewitz
American University of Ras Al Khaimah
United Arab Emirates

 

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