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This leaf group is working from a preliminary sketch in order to draft a plan for Votorola's home page, one piece at a time. We're starting with the pieces necessary for a minimal home page in abstract. These include the validity seeking practice, legislative action and minimal framing.

The home page introduces Votorola by embedding the tools of the project and by describing the associated practice. What follows is the composition plan for the home page. The main components are the framing of the page and the introduction, plus the practical categories of issue raising, resource growth and action.



Issue raising

Consensus search

Consensus search is the general practice of finding a consensus for action. It is described in a section of the home page that includes a sub-section on the particular practice of validity seeking.

Validity seeking

Validity seeking is a particular practice of consensus search. It is described in a sub-section having the following content:

Validity seeking

One's autonomy in a social world that regulates itself by laws and other norms of action (public autonomy) hinges on being able to understand and agree with those norms that one is affected by.2 This criterion is generalized in the discourse principle, which Habermas formulates as:3

  1. Just those action norms are valid to which all possibly affected persons could agree as participants in rational discourses.

Principle D applies to polls of normative issue, not to official appointments such as elections. Usually the issue of the norm is still pending in the poll, which means the norm itself does not yet exist as intended. All that exists are incomplete drafts. None is expected to produce a valid norm in a single step, but rather through a series of editorial changes that bring the overall text incrementally closer to the goal of validity. To continually guide it along, therefore, D is incrementally applied through a series of validity questions:

  1. Is the proposed change valid? Is it one to which all possibly affected persons could agree as participants in rational discourses?

The preliminary practice consists in posing question V in public for each substantive change to a candidate norm; eliciting reasons for any negative replies; and attaching a record of these to the change proposal. The applicable changes include patches, consensus bridges and other branch shifts that alter the text, thereby changing the meaning of the would-be norm.4 Each such change is presented to the members of a public forum before being formally proposed. Question V is raised. Each negative answer that is more-or-less successfully defended with reasons is remarked. A record of the remark and the surrounding argument is then attached to the change proposal. These preliminary actions may be conducted by the individual proposer of the change, or by the pipe minder of the proposing group (left of figure). The change is then either amended and re-presented to the forum; or formally proposed for application in the tree as is; or left standing as a local variation for future consideration. Thus far, any public guidance is taken at the discretion of the formal, in-tree participants; they alone decide the issue of the proposed change.

[SV]Seeking validity. The pipe minder of a leaf group poses question V to a forum (top left), and attaches a record of the negative responses to the group's change proposal. Meanwhile members of the forum and the broader public join the effort as new formal participants (right). The effort expands over time to accommodate multiple groups working in parallel on variant consensus drafts (a to d). legend

The balance of the practice is conducted by new formal participants who enter the effort from the periphery (right of figure). They might be attracted by the prospect of working with others, or spurred by the necessity of opposing them, but in any case they see an opportunity to improve the overall text. Their effectiveness in guiding it toward the goal of validity will depend on a facility of both accommodating parallel activity and integrating it. This dual facility is the responsibility of other practices, particularly the practice of position space rationalization. The results of that practice are visible in the expanding "forest of agreement" in the bottom of the figure, which is also a population of draft norms interrelated by a mechanism of recombinant genetics. The evolutionary process that materially carries the effort forward is similar, in its iterative, branching pattern, to the argumentative process that ideally validates the goal.

... the idea of an unending process of argumentation striving toward a limit requires one to specify the conditions under which this process acquires a directional character and, at least in the long run, makes progress possible in a cumulative learning process. These pragmatic process conditions ideally ensure that all the relevant reasons and information available for a given issue at a particular time are in no way suppressed, that is, that they can develop their inherent force for rational motivation. ... The argumentative process of the cooperative search for truth ideally closes the rationality gap between, on the one hand, the individual substantial reasons set out in fundamentally incomplete sequences of argument that are at most plausible and, on the other, the unconditionality of the claim to the "single right" decision.5

Likewise the evolutionary process of consensus drafting tends to close the material gap between a tentative sequence of hopeful editorial changes and the single, Herculean change to which the answer to V is an unconditional "yes". Indeed, we may view the underlying formalizations of the practice as part of the supportive structure for the ideal discourses of D; as part, that is, of the tensile intermediation between facticity and validity, practice and principle, which is the institution of public autonomy.

© 2013 Michael Allan, please do not copy


Action practices are described in a section of the home page that includes a sub-section on legislative action.

Legislative action

Legislative action is a particular type of action. Its practice is described in a sub-section having the following content:

Legislative action

Guidance of legislation requires a draft text in the form of a bill, bylaw or ordinance appropriate for the assembly that has jurisdiction in the issue. Separately it also requires a continuous, open primary election for the same assembly. Legislative and electoral guidance are interrelated, but their primaries run separately in parallel. This page describes the legislative side. It is divided roughly into two phases: a primary phase in which the public seeks agreement on a text, followed by a decisive phase in which the assembly promulgates that text as a law.6


Assembly members are expected to have a strong motive to participate in the primary drafting effort, especially in the latter stages after a rough consensus has emerged. Primary drafters and primary electors are usually the same people, the most productive of whom are also rival candidates for the members' seats. Any member who stood aloof from the effort, or voted against a consensus of her electors without a good explanation, would immediately begin to lose primary electoral votes to her more attuned rivals. For these and other professional reasons, assembly members are expected to participate in increasing numbers once a rough consensus on the issue has emerged. Their participation reveals the effect of guidance, and the nearness to decision. A separate tally of the in-house votes (red in figure) tracks the likelihood of the text's passage should it be introduced. Caution on the part of uncommitted members may cause some delay here. Should the tally ever indicate the likelihood of a majority, however, the only remaining hurdle will be to complete the text while holding onto that majority and the public consensus that backs it. Here the decision and timing rest with an in-house committee, individual member or external executive, depending on the assembly rules. The completed text is then introduced to the floor, voted by the members, and (if it passes) promulgated into law. Prudent members may then withdraw their primary votes and await further developments in public, as the law may require revision.


A section of footnotes is included in the home page. It has the following content:


  1. ^ a b c Jürgen Habermas. 1992. Between facts and norms: contributions to a discourse theory of law and democracy. Translated by William Rehg, 1996. MIT Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts.
  2. ^ Hab921 p. 126. Although public and private autonomy are co-original in theory (pp. 103-4, 314), like two sides of the same coin, the coin tends to be at risk of vanishing on the public side. Principle D is not nearly so well respected as are human rights.
  3. ^ Hab921 p. 107. Habermas also distinguishes a "democratic principle", which he formulates as: "only those statutes may claim legitimacy that can meet with the assent (Zustimmung) of all citizens in a discursive process of legislation that in turn has been legally constituted." (p. 110) However this means only that the discourse principle D is being applied to norms that are legal in form (pp. 121, 455, 458). The practice of validity seeking is affected only in this regard, and principle D is entirely unaffected; it remains fully D.
  4. ^ Branch shifts that leave the text unaltered are not considered substantive. Nor are mere changes of grammar or text formatting. These do not require public critique.
  5. ^ Hab921 pp. 227-228.
  6. ^ See also Stuff:Broad-based decision guidance.