Watching ICANN Through IETF ? Part II
Date: Wednesday February 12 2003, @05:06PM
Topic: The Big Picture

AF writes "Michael Froomkin, who has underlined several striking lessons to be learned from IETF/ICANN contrast, continues with us in the second part of this interview, addressing even deeper matters such as ICANN's institutional design.

CircleID: Could you elaborate on the following quote from your article? "...when large sums of money are at issue, and the affected stakeholders are not only diverse, but their interests are also at loggerheads, then consensus cannot be achieved and discourse ethics loses its relevance. I think this is the wrong conclusion. Discourse ethics is a fundamentally proceduralist theory. It requires actual or reasonably hypothesized consensus as to the procedure for making decisions, not the decisions themselves."

Michael Froomkin: This is an attempt to explain one of Habermas's core ideas. Lacking infinite time to make decisions, when faced with contentious choices we can't make perfect ones, and we can't achieve perfect agreement. The best we can do is, first, to expect from our neighbors and ourselves a commitment to do our best at each decision. In contrast, Habermas suggests that there is a class of decisions -- the fundamentally procedural ones about how we organize our decision making -- on which we can reasonably expect reasonable people to agree. In part -- and here there is more than an echo of Kant -- this is because Reason instructs us on the parameters of basic justice and inclusion that define any legitimate process. One of those parameters is that if actual consensus on the procedures cannot be achieved, then those who impose them must nonetheless sincerely believe that the opposition stems from misinformation or the opponents' inability to understand their true interests; in other words that the procedures genuinely are fair to everyone. Within those parameters, different societies and times must find their own procedures. The procedures themselves do not have to use consensus. Voting is a legitimate way to make many decisions that need to be made in real time, albeit not those about fundamental rights.

Read the complete interview...

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