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March 13, 2014


Dave Timoney

The "different hats" approach has merit as a way of rigorously testing evidence. This, after all, is the model employed in a court of law (though the recent tale of the American guy who spent 30 years on Death Row due to an incompetent defence shows that this doesn't always work in practice).

Arguably, the adversarial nature of politics also embodies this role-playing model, but you can now see a problem: what is to prevent the frame of reference being structurally biased? Arguing for more of X or less of X isn't helpful if it excludes consideration of Y.

Formalising roles on the MPC such as "hawk" and "dove" might institutionalise a particular policy paradigm. This in turn would potentially give too much influence to the media (who are largely responsible for the taxonomy), allowing them to gradually shift the terms of debate.

Phil H

I think also the hats suggestion ignores the way relatively open cultures actually work. Whereas in a closed culture, there are many positions which literally no-one will publicly advocate for (whether they believe them privately or not), in an open culture there is always someone who believes almost any given proposition. Because of that, we no longer bother with the hats. We just find people who really hold certain kinds of beliefs, and let them be the hats.

Rob Angell

The assigning of roles in the MPC will lead to the classic polorisation of argument / debate. And it is the definition of debate - to pursuade / advocate for a position to convince the other side they are wrong - that gives a hint to the problem. For me the solution is to change the frame to dialogue - to deliberate, consider and decide. If the MPC were to be seen to be doing this, on behalf of the interests of the economy then showing what was said seems a whole lot less scary.

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