Friday, February 17, 2012 – 8:00 a.m.
Peter Danielson, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada
The N-Reasons on-line experimental on-line platform has been shown to produce consistent decisions supported by citizen-sourced reasons over a variety of domains, ranging from the ethics of robots in war and peace, through personalized genomics and stem cells, to animal welfare in experimental and agricultural settings. The platform has provided a wealth of data that connects quantifiable distributions of choices with the qualitative richness of reasons. One key feature is the ability to reduce the set of constrained reasons by an order of magnitude compared with freely submitted comments. The result is an instrument that makes reflective choice by large groups feasible.
We will show how extending the platform to support face to face ethics education enables us to enhance both the on-line and face-to-face experiences. For the face-to-face classroom, the new CEE-Ethics platform offer opportunities for a wider basis for deliberation via anonymity and contributions by the public. Both on-line and face-to-face use of the instrument can be improved by pre- and post- assessment of change in decisions and reasons. With many in-class groups, we have a fertile testing ground for new experiments in deliberative democracy. For example, we can test the extent the Report Inappropriate Content option is used neutrally or politically. (Note that his option both eases the route to research ethics approval and yields new sources of data.) Again, we can use class runs as “Petri dishes”, injecting reasons that have done well or poorly elsewhere and measuring how they fare. Finally, our platform approach makes creating rich experimental public participation experiences much simpler allowing us to field new surveys on radical life extension, animals in teaching, and cognitive enhancement.