There is no "point" in decision-making: a model of transactive rationality for public policy and administration

P.K.R. Dorstewitz, S. Kuruvilla

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

The hope that policy-making is a rational process lies at the heart of policy science and democratic practice. However, what constitutes rationality is not clear. In policy deliberations, scientific, democratic, moral, and ecological concerns are often at odds. Harold Lasswell, in instituting the contemporary policy sciences, found that John Dewey's pragmatist philosophy provided an integrative foundation that took into account all these considerations. As the policy sciences developed with a predominantly empirical focus on discrete aspects of policy-making, this holistic perspective was lost for a while. Contemporary theorists are reclaiming pragmatist philosophy as a framework for public policy and administration. In this article, key postulates of pragmatist philosophy are transposed to policy science by developing a new theoretical model of transactive rationality. This model is developed in light of current policy analyses, and against the backdrop of three classical policy science theories of rationality: linear and bounded rationalism; incrementalism; and mixed-scanning. Transactive rationality is a "fourth approach" that, by integrating scientific, democratic, moral, and ecological considerations, serves as a more holistic, explanatory, and normative guide for public policy and democratic practice.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)263-287
Number of pages25
JournalPolicy Sciences
Volume43
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2010

Keywords

  • CLASSICAL PRAGMATISM
  • DEMOCRACY
  • Democracy
  • Ecological
  • HEALTH
  • INQUIRY
  • John Dewey
  • KNOWLEDGE
  • Morality
  • OLD PRAGMATISM NEEDS
  • Pragmatist philosophy
  • Public administration
  • Public policy
  • Rationality
  • SCIENCE
  • Science
  • Transactive rationality
  • UPGRADE

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