Should We Get Rid of Peer Review?

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 10/07/2019 - 1:43am in

“Where philosophers of science have claimed the social structure of science works well, their arguments tend to rely on things other than peer review, and that where specific benefits have been claimed for peer review, empirical research has so far failed to bear these out. Comparing this to the downsides of peer review, most prominently the massive amount of time and resources tied up in it, we conclude that we might be better off abolishing peer review”

That’s from the introduction of a new paper by Remco Heesen (Western Australia) and Liam Kofi Bright (LSE), “Is Peer Review a Good Idea?“, in the British Journal for the Philosophy of Science.

photo by J. Weinberg

According to Heesen and Bright, the empirical evidence for the effectiveness of peer review in assessing the quality of research is “mixed at best.”

Peer review’s limited effectiveness would perhaps not be a problem if it required little time and effort from scientists [which the authors use broadly to include researchers working in the sciences, social sciences, and the humanities]. But in fact the opposite is true. Going from a manuscript to a published article involves many hours of reviewing work by the assigned peer reviewers and a significant time investment from the editor handling the submission. The editor and reviewers are all scientists themselves, so the epistemic opportunity cost of their reviewing work is significant: instead of reviewing, they could be doing more science.

Their proposal is to get rid of prepublication peer review. Instead:

Scientists themselves will decide when their work is ready for sharing. When this happens, they publish their work online on something that looks like a preprint archive (think arXiv, bioRxiv, or PhilSci-archive, although the term ‘preprint’ would not be appropriate under our proposal). Authors can subsequently publish updated versions that reply to questions and comments from other scientists, which may have been provided publicly or privately. The business of journals will be to create curated collections of previously published articles. Their process for creating these collections will involve (postpublication) peer review, insofar as they currently use prepublication peer review.

Apart from avoiding the aforementioned epistemic opportunity cost, the authors claim that eliminating prepublication peer review would have other benefits, including:

  • Scientists would be able to share their discoveries more quickly.
  • More than just the privileged few who are enmeshed in particular research networks would have early and free access to scientific findings.
  • Scientists would be freer in their choices about how to spend their time, rather than being “conscripted” into reviewing manuscripts.
  • The effects of actual and expected gender bias in peer review would be reduced.
  • There would be significant savings in library budgets.
  • When it comes to assessing researchers, the role of the “short-run credit” of publication in a high-impact journal may be reduced, while that of the “long-run credit” of citation metrics may be increased.
  • The power of gatekeepers would be reduced, making the evaluation of research a “more in line with general communal norms accepted within science.”

You can read the full paper here. Discussion welcome.

The post Should We Get Rid of Peer Review? appeared first on Daily Nous.

New Paper: Participatory Budgeting Improves Civic Voices and Tax Revenues

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 09/07/2019 - 9:30pm in



NCDD member organization The Participatory Budgeting Project recently shared a new research paper on how participatory budgeting (PB) has been linked to improved civic engagement and increased tax revenue. PB is a process where community members vote on how to spend a portion of public dollars and is increasingly being attributed to bolstering peoples’ faith and practice in local governance. The article written by Loren Peabody shares the research of Michael Touchton, Brian Wampler, and Tiago Peixoto, who found that when people have the opportunity to give input on government spending, they are also more willing to pay their taxes. You can read the article below and find the original on the PBP’s blog here.

New Studies: PB Increases Tax Revenue as it Grows the Number of Voices in Government

New ideas often get a skeptical response, and participatory budgeting (PB) is no exception. One common doubt: while PB may be admirable, unfortunately governments just can’t afford it.

A new World Bank working paper by Michael Touchton, Brian Wampler, and Tiago Peixoto concludes just the opposite — PB and participatory institutions actually improve government balance sheets by boosting residents’ willingness to pay taxes. While most strategies for improving tax compliance rely on tougher enforcement or easier filing processes, these researchers provide evidence that people more readily pay their share of taxes when they feel they have a voice in the policy-making process and when they believe that governments are more transparent and deliver better services.

The study investigates a database of 5,570 Brazilian municipalities over a 13-year period, an ideal setting to see if participatory institutions have an impact on tax collection for several reasons. First, Brazilian cities have more legal autonomy and greater responsibility for delivering public services than municipal governments in the United States. One outcome of this autonomy was participatory budgeting itself–first developed in Porto Alegre in 1989 before spreading across the country. What’s less well known is that Brazil has also been a leader in developing public policy councils, which are co-governance institutions made up of officials and members of the public that formulate policy and oversee government performance.

Finally, Brazilian cities vary widely in the quality of their governance and their ability to collect tax revenue. Some municipalities have received considerable acclaim for their public administration. Curitiba, for example, has won awards for its sustainability and transportation planning. Others display a dynamic that is all-too-common in developing countries: poorly functioning governments lose public legitimacy, making individuals reluctant to pay their taxes and leading to a downward spiral as the government can’t obtain the revenue needed to improve performance.

Touchton, Wampler, and Peixoto find that both forms of participatory institutions — policy councils and participatory budgeting — have a positive and statistically-significant association with collecting more tax revenue. Municipalities with higher-than-average use of policy councils collect 27% more tax revenue than cities without the councils (averaged across different measures of tax collection). The relationship is even stronger with participatory budgeting: “On average, municipalities with PB have tax outcomes that are 34% greater than those without PB… [and] municipalities with PB for over 8 years have tax outcomes that are 39% greater than those without PB.”

Causation? Or Coincidence?

A skeptical reader would wonder exactly how the causation works here. It could be that some unobserved factor improves tax collection practices and simultaneously prompts governments to adopt PB and policy councils — rather than the participatory institutions being the cause of the improvement. To minimize this possibility, the researchers used a statistical technique called matching that pairs up cities that are similar in terms of their local economic and political conditions and in terms of proxy measures for their administrative capacity, but that differ with respect to whether or not they implemented participatory institutions.

In contrast to surveys or lab experiments, a strength of this research design is the ability to show that a link between public participation, good governance, and tax compliance can be observed in the real world. On the other hand, the study’s real-world setting could also mean that the findings only apply to the Brazilian context. To investigate the generalizability of these relationships, Tiago Peixoto teamed up with Fredrik M. Sjoberg, Jonathan Mellon, Johannes Hemker, and Lily L. Tsai for an additional study that performed an online survey experiment involving 65,000 respondents from 50 different countries. It found that across widely disparate contexts, individuals were more likely to report a stronger commitment to tax compliance when they are given an opportunity to voice their preferences about government spending (a simple simulation of taking part in PB).

Of all PB’s positive impacts that researchers have been documenting–including increased public investment in low-income communitiesmore active civil societyhigher voter turnoutimproved public health and well-being — improved tax collection may have the most impact of all, by increasing the total revenue available to address public needs. It can also help buttress the argument that deep, equitable democratic participation is valuable in itself by showing it is also a practical solution to some key problems cities face. As Touchton, Wampler, and Peixoto put it, “Governments that adopt participatory institutions make investments in democratic accountability and legitimacy that pay dividends in tax revenue. In turn, more revenue can increase the capacity to deliver better services, which begets still more legitimacy.”

You can find the original version of this article on the Participatory Budgeting Project’s blog at

Philosopher-Created Research and Productivity Software for Philosophers

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 26/06/2019 - 12:01am in

Jason Winning, who worked developing commercial database software for medical professionals before recently earning a Ph.D. in philosophy and cognitive science at the University of California, San Diego, has created a free, open source “personal productivity/database application” designed to be especially useful to philosophers. 

Called Hypernomicon, the software “combines structured note-taking, mind-mapping, management of files and folders, and reference management into an integrated environment that organizes all of the above into semantic networks or hierarchies in terms of debates, positions, arguments, labels, terminology/concepts, and user-defined keywords by means of database relations and automatically generated hyperlinks.”

Basically, it is a way to keep track of and organize (hierarchically, if applicable) concepts, questions, debates, theories, positions, arguments and counterarguments, sources and authors associated with the foregoing, author information, PDF files, personal notes, and the like. It doesn’t replace reference manager software, but can integrate with Zotero, and soon, Mendeley.

The software works on laptops and desktop computers with Windows, Mac OS, or Linux. It requires no account or subscription, and was created by Winning because he needed it for his own work. However, it doesn’t require any particular expertise to use. According to Winning, it is “intended for causal users who do not have any training/experience in databases or in any particular software or IT skills. It is made to be user-friendly for anyone who does philosophy to use. If you have the technological skills necessary to use basic productivity software like Microsoft Word, then you can use Hypernomicon.”

Below is a tutorial video.

You can download the software from the Hypernomicon site. I’ve downloaded it, but haven’t had a chance to use it yet. If you have, feel free to share your thoughts about it in the comments.

The post Philosopher-Created Research and Productivity Software for Philosophers appeared first on Daily Nous.

Understanding Our Perceptions of Civic Language

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 20/06/2019 - 9:03pm in



Philanthropy for Active Civic Engagement released their new report last month, The Civic Language Perceptions Project, which explores the different perceptions of how “civic work” language is used. The initial sentence in the summary states the importance of this work succinctly, “when your work is as grand and complex as democracy—and as dependent on shared understanding and participation—language and effective communication are critical”. We encourage folks to read about the project below and find the original version of this information on the PACE site here.

Language Perceptions Project

In late 2018, PACE undertook a research effort to better understand the perceptions of language our field uses to describe civic engagement and democracy work. In other words, when we say “civic engagement” or “democracy” or “patriotism,” “activism,” or “justice” to most Americans, what do they hear?  And what does it mean to them?

The exploration took shape in both qualitative and quantitative research methods. Our research team included Topos Partnership, communications experts who led a series of focus groups to delve into these words and phrases, and Dr. Parissa Ballard, a researcher at Wake Forest School of Medicine, who developed and distributed a detailed online survey. Both approaches elicited feedback from a diverse and nationally representative sample of participants. It was limited in size and scope, but we hope may illuminate possibilities for additional exploration. (To learn more about the inspiration for our exploration, view a high-level summary.)

The research illuminated a great deal about Americans’ relationship to civic language. Click here for the summary report from PACE, highlighting what we heard.

This summary was drawn from comprehensive memos from our research teams, detailing results from both focus group conversations and survey data:

A central goal of this effort was to spark conversation—both about what we heard, and how the findings might inform the work of practitioners.  Below are two resources that can serve to guide discussions:

This project was made possible with collaboration and/or support from the Foundation for Harmony and Prosperity, Kettering Foundation, Fetzer Institute, Ford Foundation, the National Conference on Citizenship, and the Pritzker Innovation Fund. We also acknowledge the contributions of the working group that provided insight and guidance that was invaluable to the conceptualization and execution of this project.

You can find the original version of this announcement on the PACE site at

RFP Open Until 7/25 for Participatory Grantmaking Research

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 18/06/2019 - 9:30pm in



We just heard about a new RFP announcement from the Ford Foundation to explore participatory grantmaking research that we want to encourage folks in our network to apply for! The Ford Foundation is looking to award individuals and organizations that are generating evidence on the benefits and challenges of participatory grantmaking, with the goal to increase these participatory practices, specifically with large legacy foundations and high-net-worth donors. They will award $300K between 5-15 grantees who show the value of participatory grantmaking and offer evidence to back it up. Deadline to have proposals in is Thursday, July 25th, and the final decision will be announced in October. Learn more about the RFP below and find the original on the Philanthropy News Digest site here.

Ford Foundation Issues RFP for Participatory Grantmaking Research

The Ford Foundation has issued a Request for Proposals from individuals and organizations that are generating evidence on the benefits and challenges of participatory grantmaking. The foundation’s goal is to increase overall willingness to test and implement participatory approaches across philanthropy, but especially in areas with lower rates of adoption such as legacy foundations and high-net-worth donors.

As documented in a recent monograph, Participatory Grantmaking: Has Its Time Come?, and GrantCraft guide, Deciding Together: Shifting Power and Resources Through Participatory Grantmaking, a growing number of grantmakers and donors are using participatory approaches. These include involving non-grantmakers/donors in designating funding priorities and strategies, reviewing and assessing proposals, establishing decision-making criteria, making funding decisions, and conducting evaluations. While more grantmakers and donors are embracing participatory approaches, two constituencies have been relatively slow to do so — large legacy foundations (private foundations set up to conduct grantmaking) and high-net-worth-donors (generally defined as those with more than $50 million in bankable assets).

Encouraging wider consideration of the merits of participatory approaches among these audiences will require more information that “makes the case” for participatory grantmaking, including compelling arguments about and empirical evidence of its value, benefits, outcomes, and impacts.

As part of its philanthropy portfolio, the foundation has allocated $300,000 to support research that can help make the case and build a body of evidence for participatory approaches.

Participatory grantmaking is defined as the involvement of non-grantmakers/donors in developing funding strategies; designating funding priorities; reviewing and assessing proposals; establishing decision-making criteria; making funding decisions; and conducting evaluation.

Some examples of key questions and potential areas for more exploration include but are not limited to: What value does participation add to philanthropy? How should value be measured? What are the benefits and challenges of participatory grantmaking? What are the long-term benefit and costs of doing/not doing participatory philanthropy/grantmaking? Is foundation transparency, accountability, and feedback the same as participation? What is the role of donors/experts in participatory grantmaking and what value does it have? What would a cultural ethos of participation in foundations look like?

The foundation expects to award approximately five to fifteen grants in support of proposals that provide clear and persuasive arguments and/or empirical evidence that demonstrates the value and impact of participatory grantmaking. Our overarching and driving questions are: Does participatory grantmaking lead to better/stronger philanthropic outcomes/impacts? Why, and how do we know?

What would it take? How do we know if participatory grantmaking has been successful? How do we measure success in terms of process and results on the ground? What are the effects of participatory grantmaking on the people who are participating? Does this approach strengthen the efforts of larger movements? If so, how? If not, what needs to be leveraged to make such contributions? Does participatory grantmaking promote/advance diversity, equity, and inclusion? If so, how and how do we know? If not, why? What are the practical considerations funders need to consider when implementing participatory grantmaking? Where and how does participatory grantmaking “fit” with other kinds of participatory approaches/fields? What are the similarities and differences? Are there ways in which these approaches enhance each other and, if so, how? Where does participation fit into decisions about allocating non-grant resources?

Proposals will be evaluated by the steering committee based on criteria that includes: a strong alignment between the project and the goal of the initiative; the project’s potential for advancing participatory grantmaking across philanthropy, especially among legacy foundations and high-net-worth donors. (Will it “move the needle?”); demonstrated commitment to diversity and inclusion; potential for or involvement of new voices; capacity to carry out the project; a plan and capacity for disseminating findings; and adequacy of the budget and timeline for the project.

Projects should be completed by April 1, 2021.

To be eligible, applicants must be an individual or organization based in the United States and focus primarily on work taking place in the United States.

The deadline for proposals is July 25, 2019, with final grant decisions to be announced in October.

For more information, a copy of the full RFP, or to submit a proposal, email In the email, please include “Participatory Grantmaking RFP” in the subject line. If submitting a proposal, be sure to include in the body of the email the project name, a one- or two-sentence description of the project, and the name, organization, address, phone number, and email address for the primary contact.

Representation at the APA

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 12/06/2019 - 11:26pm in


research, teaching

“41 of 45 the APA’s officers, or 91.1%, are from research universities. While I understand that research plays a central role in the discipline, this strikes me as potentially a missed opportunity in several respects.”

Those are the words of Marcus Arvan, associate professor of philosophy at the University of Tampa, in a  post at The Philosophers’ Cocoon, written in the wake of the American Philosophical Association’s recent elections.

Anni Albers, “Orchestra III”

Professor Arvan isn’t objecting to which candidates won. As he says, he was “pleasantly surprised that a number of people I voted for were elected.” But he thinks it would be good for the APA if it paid more attention to the disparity in the types of universities and colleges its officers work at. Why?

He writes:

First, as someone who works at a liberal arts university, my sense is that philosophers at institutions like mine face a distinct set of challenges—many having to do with pressures in higher education to marginalize the humanitiesmajor and program closures, increased administrative and assessment burdens on top of high teaching loads, adjunct dependence, and so on… My sense is that if we want to preserve the discipline of philosophy and have it flourish in the decades to come, it may be very important for professional organizations like the APA to be sensitive to these unique challenges, in ways that (I think) only representatives from such institutions may be well-placed to understand. By a similar token, I think it would probably make a great deal of sense to not only have ample representation by faculty from liberal arts universities, but also from community colleges—as faculty in those environments almost certainly have professional challenges of their own that professional organizations might help with.

Second, I think that expanding representation in the boards of professional organizations may help faculty from non-research universities feel more included and valued in the profession—and, by extension, graduate students and job-marketeers seeking such jobs. For my part, I have heard on multiple occasions of how faculty from “teaching schools” can feel left out or marginalized in the profession–ranging from how they feel treated at conferences (viz. “People just ignore me when they see my nametag”) to how the vast majority of prestigious prizes in the profession are for research rather than for teaching, service, to grad students being told by faculty in their highly-ranked programs that jobs at teaching schools are undesirable, and so on. I think, in other words, that more representation from faculty at different kinds of programs might help our discipline become less hierarchical, demonstrating more to its diverse membership that what we all do is valuable (and valued).

He also suggests it would be good to “seek out and include philosophy PhDs who have left academia for positions on the board—philosophers who are still interested in the profession, but who (for whatever reason) have pursued ‘alt-ac’ careers.”

Professor Arvan refrains from possible explanations for the disparity he notices. Part of it may be owed to institutional incentives: certain types of schools may steeply prioritize service to the school over service to the profession. Part of it may be owed to the way jobs are structured: higher teaching loads may leave professors with less flexibility in their schedules for fitting in additional service work. There may be other factors at work here. It would be especially useful to hear from professors at institutions that are not “R1“-type places as to what they think is the explanation for the representational disparity, and what they think should be done, if anything, to change it.

The post Representation at the APA appeared first on Daily Nous.

Democratic-Renewal News Site Launches – TheFulcrum.US

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 07/06/2019 - 9:00pm in



It’s a big week of website launches for the dialogue, deliberation, and engagement community! In case you missed it, Participedia launched their new Wikipedia-like website for resources related to civic engagement and democratic innovation earlier this week. A new site launched yesterday called The Fulcrum, a digital publication that will serve as a news source for national efforts going on that strengthen American democracy. Our field knows there is great work going on across the country to improve the quality and state of our democratic republic, and this site is a great amplifier to spread awareness for this work! Check out the press release below shared with us via the team at The Fulcrum and we encourage you to contribute to this premier news source.

News Release: TheFulcrum.US Launches

Today we are launching the only news site dedicated exclusively to covering the community of people and organizations seeking to improve American democracy.

The Fulcrum is a hub of original reporting, coverage from around the country, opinion and more for readers seeking to learn about efforts to strengthen American democracy.

The Fulcrum is staffed by award-winning journalists who report on the efforts to make our democratic republic less tribal, our elections more competitive, our politicians less beholden to moneyed interests, and our officials more attentive to real evidence in policy-making so Congress may become more effective, ethical and civil.

The Fulcrum follows these issues exclusively, like no other news site. We track efforts to help government be more responsive to the Americans who want these changes. Our team decodes behaviors threatening (or protecting) the principles of the Constitution. Most importantly, we explain how you can get involved and why our democracy depends on it.

“We’re thrilled to launch The Fulcrum during this time of intense interest in fixing our country’s political system,” says Publisher and Executive Editor David Meyers, who previously held a number of senior roles at CQ Roll Call. “The data clearly shows that people care about these issues and through The Fulcrum we will help them better understand what is happening, who is doing the work and how to better connect.”

The Fulcrum’s nonpartisan political reform coverage began in December 2018 with the email newsletter known as The Firewall. Its popularity has grown, and it is now available under The Fulcrum brand, as well as our robust website filled with the latest reform-related news and opinion pieces from leaders of the reform movement. The readership includes reformers, philanthropists, reporters, editors and the general public.

While rooting for the political system to strengthen, The Fulcrum’s journalistic role is to bring a clear and unbiased eye to the debates. Doing so requires freedom from partisanship and journalistic independence from those supporting our mission. So while we are incubated by Issue One, which describes itself as “the leading cross-partisan political reform group in Washington,” we are editorially independent of Issue One and its funders.

“American democracy has become fundamentally challenged since I started covering D.C. 30 years ago, decoding policy and politics for voters,” says Editor in Chief David Hawkings, most recently senior editor at CQ Roll Call. “I’m passionate about the need for more clear-eyed, unbiased reporting that boosts understanding of the dysfunction that is threatening our collective future. We’re working together to illuminate the efforts to help our government serve the people.”

The Fulcrum was conceptualized by Issue One Founder and CEO Nick Penniman who says, “Across the country, Americans are more eager than ever to fix our broken political system. The Fulcrum will highlight the people, organizations, and efforts that are doing this work. Renewing our republic for the next generation requires all hands on deck, and the Fulcrum will be the destination site for change-makers working to strengthen our democracy. Issue One has been proud to conceive and sponsor this project. We look forward to seeing it flourish under the leadership of veteran political journalists David Meyers and David Hawkings.”

The Fulcrum is funded by the Hewlett Foundation, the Bridge Alliance Education Fund, Arnold Ventures and the Lizzie and Jonathan M. Tisch Foundation.

You’re invited to visit our new website, and subscribe to our newsletter, on TheFulcrum.US.

Please connect with us:

Twitter –



David Hawkings has been a reporter, editor and columnist focused on the policies, politics and people of Congress for three decades. Most recently he was the senior editor of CQ Roll Call, wrote the “Hawkings Here” column, and hosted a series of videos and podcasts dubbed “Roll Call Decoder.” He is a regular guest on Fox News, Federal News Radio and Newsy and has appeared as an analyst on CNN, MSNBC and NPR. Follow David Hawkings on Twitter.

David Meyers has spent the past two decades immersed in political media. He was most recently vice president of business operations for CQ Roll Call, and prior to that was the organization’s vice president of research and content development. Meyers served as director of StateTrack, managing editor for Roll Call, and ran the day-to-day newsroom operations and led development of He served as president of the Washington Press Club Foundation from July 2013 through June 2015. Follow David Meyers on Twitter.

Nick Penniman is the founder and CEO of Issue One, the leading cross-partisan political reform group in Washington that unites Republicans, Democrats, and independents in the movement to fix our broken political system. He co-authored “Nation on the Take” in 2016 and was previously the founder and executive director of the Huffington Post Investigative Fund, Washington director of the Schumann Center for Media and Democracy and publisher of Washington Monthly.

You can check out The Fulcrum site at Launches New Website – Contribute Now!

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 06/06/2019 - 9:00pm in



The good folks at Participedia shared with us an exciting announcement – the launch of their newly revamped open collaboration website! The new site operates in a similar way as Wikipedia and is open for anyone to add resources related to civic engagement and democratic innovation. We encourage you to peruse the fresh site and contribute to it! You can read the announcement below and find the original version on Participedia’s Medium site here. And since we’re on the subject of collaborative efforts, we want to offer a final reminder to join for today’s free Confab call on using Slack for connecting and building a democratic movement – register here!

Crowdsourcing Participatory Democracy

Starting today, the @ParticipediaProject will use Medium as our primary news channel. We will share relevant content about participatory democracy around the world, generated by and for our community of academics, practitioners, and engaged citizens, and we invite you join us.

As our premiere Medium post we’re excited to announce the launch of our newly redesigned, open source, open edit website: Participedia.netWe’ll give you a sense of what the Participedia Project is all about and what makes it relevant in today’s global context, and how our open source and participatory approach to website design created new opportunities for collaboration and impact.

Known as ‘the Wikipedia of public participation’, Participedia content is created, edited, and accessed by anyone on the internet as part of the Creative Commons. Our new website is designed to inform and inspire policymakers, community organizers, and citizens. We are a resource for anyone interested in the new forms of civic engagement and democratic innovation being developed around the world.

The content published by our community of users reflects important global issues. The Citizens Assembly on Brexit case entry highlights the use of deliberative public engagement on a complex and polarizing issue, and Girls at Dhabas highlights a grassroots initiative that leverages social media to empower women and non-binary individuals in Pakistan. You too can help to collaboratively document the global phenomenon of public participation by joining the community at, where nearly 2000 entries have already been published and edited by close to 3000 users.

Our new website is being developed using open source, transparent, and participatory methods, and has created new opportunities for collaboration and experimentation that span political and geographic boundaries. For example, the Privy Council Office of Canada discovered and engaged with Participedia on Github, a platform for open source development where our new code and ongoing design process is available publicly. The resulting collaboration will use Participedia to document case studies of public engagement conducted by the Canadian Government. As well, student computer scientists in the UK connected with our developers while prototyping new tools for the platform using our open source API. In addition to other new features for the website that will soon be released, a tech-driven engagement plan for localization is in place that will connect and empower our community to translate site content into multiple languages, and share knowledge and resources in a more accessible and inclusive way.

Participedia is made possible by a Partnership Grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC). The project was founded by principal investigator Dr Mark Warren of the University of British Columbia and co-investigator Dr Archon Fung of Harvard University’s Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation. The new Participedia website was designed by the project’s Design & Technology Team, led by Amber Frid-Jimenez, Canada Research Chair in art and design technology and director of the Studio for Extensive Aesthetics at Emily Carr University of Art + Design.

Join Us!



Twitter: @Participedia




You can find the original version of this announcement on the Participedia Medium site at

The Cute Dog Project

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 03/06/2019 - 11:44pm in

A group of undergraduates at Northeastern University studying philosophy, political science, computer science, data science, economics, and other subjects teamed up on a surprisingly interesting and sophisticated project to rank the cutest dog in the university’s Department of Philosophy and Religion.

Called The Cute Dog Project, it attempted to address “a topic about which there has been long-standing and passionate disagreement” in “a philosophically and scientifically rigorous way.”

(This is how we start weeks in the summer time, people. With cute dogs.)

They write:

One reputable method of settling disputes in judgement is to vote. We decided to run a vote to settle whose dog is cutest in the Philosophy & Religion Department (students, faculty and staff) at Northeastern. However, answering the deceptively simple question of “Who has the cutest dog?” actually requires answers to several other difficult questions in the areas of democracy, ethics, and social choice, such as:

  • How can democratic processes be used fairly to resolve disputes?
  • What would our voting procedure be?
  • How do we balance user accessibility, voter anonymity, and security in an online voting system?
  • How do we define cuteness, and what voting mechanisms work to identify that definition?
  • Who would be allowed to submit photos and who would be allowed to vote?
  • How does this question help us uncover answers about generalized social choice theories and voting procedures?
  • How do we control for possible social and cultural biases in a way that allows us to accurately represent people’s true preferences?
  • How do we collect and manage voting data in ways that are secure, ethical, and respect the privacy of the voters?

Determining whose dog is the cutest required us to design a system informed by democratic theory, social choice theory, information ethics, value theory, critical theory, and philosophy of science. We had to grapple with the same sorts of issues that arise in democratic practice and social decision-making in other contexts—for example, selecting a presidential candidate from a crowded primary field or selecting applicants for admission to a competitive university.

Voting was open from April 3 to April 22, where almost 60,000 votes were submitted by almost 1,000 unique voters. After the contest, we used a social choice method called Ranked Pairs to identify the winner. The winner of the contest was Pearl!

Pearl, the winner

You can explore their site to learn the details of the project, meet the team members, and explore the concept of cuteness.

Interested in settling who has the cutest dog in your department? Or cuddliest cat? Or spikiest hedgehog? One of the team members, Julian Zucker, wrote to me:

I noticed that there were no open-source libraries that allow people to easily run social choice mechanisms on vote sets. So, I made one! I hope it can be useful to other philosophers and students who are implementing voting systems in practice.

He also wrote in with a query:

As part of the dog project, we collected pairwise preferences (Dog A is cuter than Dog B), and eventually we wanted to run Borda count* on the dogs. However, Borda count is position-based, and so you have to convert the pairwise preferences to an ordering. With this real-world dataset, some of the preference sets were incomplete (not covering all dogs) or intransitive. I searched for ways to convert pairwise vote sets into orderings, but couldn’t find any papers on the subject. Have you heard about this, or know where I could research further/who I could ask about it?

Readers, perhaps you could help out with this?

(*apparently first developed by Nicholas of Cusa.)


The post The Cute Dog Project appeared first on Daily Nous.

PACE Announces Funding for Faith & Democracy Initiative

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 31/05/2019 - 9:00pm in



ICYMI – There is a great funding opportunity that was just announced yesterday by the Philanthropy for Active Civic Engagement (PACE) to fund an initiative exploring the intersection of faith and democracy. PACE is offering $300k to support 5-7 projects that investigate the question, How can faith be a means to bridge divides and foster respect and cooperation in our democracy? Those accepted will join a year-long peer Learning Community to serve as a testing lab on key questions and share learnings. RFPs are now open and applications are being accepted until July 1st. We encourage you to share this with your networks! You can read the announcement below and find the original version on the PACE site here.

Faith In/And Democracy: A Funding and Learning Initiative from PACE

Philanthropy for Active Civic Engagement (PACE) has launched a pilot funding and learning initiative to invest in and promote engagement at the intersection of faith and democracy. The Faith In/And Democracy initiative will provide about $300,000 in grant support to 5-7 projects that explore this driving question: How can faith be a means to bridge divides and foster respect and cooperation in our democracy?  The Request for Proposals opens today; applications are open until July 1, 2019.

PACE is a community of funders that invest in the sustaining elements of democracy and civic life in the U.S.  “This exploration is a natural extension of PACE’s mission to deepen and enrich philanthropy’s support of democracy and civic life in the U.S.” said Kristen Cambell, Executive Director of PACE. “Faith communities have been a vibrant part of our civic fabric throughout the history of our nation.  With this project, we hope to uncover ways in which faith can serve to ease the divisions that plague our political, civic, and social processes.”

At this important moment in our democracy, many civic engagement funders and practitioners have redoubled efforts to bridge social and political divides.  This new initiative focuses on a largely unexplored connection point for bridge building: the power and potential of faith as a catalyst. In order to thrive, our democracy requires understanding, tolerance, and empathy across difference; this initiative seeks to uplift efforts to shift divisive perceptions of faith communities and build narratives about the power and potential of faith to bolster engagement in democracy and civic life.

While many institutions seek to engage people of faith in bridge-building and pluralism efforts, few organizations are funding specific interventions to engage people of faith in using their faith to support the well-being of democracy. Fewer still are considering the ways in which faith can serve to ease divisions that plague our political processes.  This pilot initiative led by PACE represents a meaningful step toward filling this gap. “We see this as a new mechanism of support to our members, as well as a vehicle for PACE to contribute learning and leadership to our field,” added Cambell. The initiative is inspired by PACE members and catalyzed in partnership with the Fetzer Institute and the Democracy Fund, as well as additional members of an Advisory Committee.

Embracing the exploratory nature of the initiative, a central aim of the effort is learning: in addition to funding 5-7 projects, PACE will launch a cohort-based, year-long peer Learning Community for those engaged with the initiative. This community will serve as a “laboratory” to test key questions about learning and impact, and enable us to reflect those learnings to funders, nonprofits, and our fields more broadly.

To learn more about the initiative, please visit  To access the full RFP and to apply, click here.

You can find the original version of this announcement on the PACE site at