A Checks and Balances Approach to Improving Institutional Decision-Making (Rough Draft)

Ab­stract. A solu­tion for im­prov­ing in­sti­tu­tional de­ci­sion-mak­ing, so that mo­ti­vated rea­son­ing does not in­fluence the de­ci­sion-mak­ing pro­cess, is pre­sented. The solu­tion in­volves the use of a com­mit­tee, that will serve as the ve­hi­cle for de­ter­min­ing whether a de­ci­sion made by an in­sti­tu­tion was in­fluenced by mo­ti­vated rea­son­ing.

Mo­ti­vated rea­son­ing is a form of bias in which in­di­vi­d­u­als ar­rive at con­clu­sions based on their own sub­jec­tive im­pres­sions. This is a ma­jor prob­lem fac­ing in­sti­tu­tions like gov­ern­ments and cor­po­ra­tions that carry out de­ci­sion-mak­ing du­ties. De­ci­sions in­fluenced by mo­ti­vated rea­son­ing could lead to ma­jor er­rors in judge­ment, which then po­ten­tially re­sults in nega­tive con­se­quences for mem­bers of so­ciety. The lives of many peo­ple from so­ciety be­ing af­fected by the mis­calcu­lated as­sess­ment of a few, can seem very un­just.

A pro­posed solu­tion to pos­si­bly coun­ter­ing mo­ti­vated rea­son­ing (that leads to com­mon think­ing er­rors) is a checks and bal­ances type of sys­tem; a sys­tem in which a com­mit­tee of non-par­ti­san in­di­vi­d­u­als could proc­tor whether a de­ci­sion made by an in­sti­tu­tion was in­fluenced by mo­ti­vated rea­son­ing. The mem­bers of this com­mit­tee ob­vi­ously need to be well versed in the is­sues(s) per­tain­ing to the in­sti­tu­tion’s de­ci­sion, and they should not be be­holden to any spe­cial in­ter­est groups. The non-par­ti­san na­ture of the com­mit­tee should en­sure that there is no bias in proc­tor­ing the in­sti­tu­tion’s de­ci­sion.

In the triv­ial case that mo­ti­vated rea­son­ing has not played a role in the in­sti­tu­tion’s de­ci­sion-mak­ing, the proc­tor­ing com­mit­tee could sim­ply ap­prove the de­ci­sion for go­ing for­ward. If mo­ti­vated rea­son­ing played a role in the de­ci­sion-mak­ing pro­cess on the other hand, then the mem­bers of the com­mit­tee have the au­thor­ity to over­ride the de­ci­sion made by the in­sti­tu­tion. The in­sti­tu­tion would have to then make mod­ifi­ca­tions to the de­ci­sion that they made. After mak­ing these mod­ifi­ca­tions, the proc­tor­ing com­mit­tee will have to again re­view the de­ci­sion to make sure that there is no bias.

The non-par­ti­san com­mit­tee could use a ledger for keep­ing a record of all the de­ci­sions that they have had to proc­tor for the in­sti­tu­tion. For each de­ci­sion made by the in­sti­tu­tion, they (the in­sti­tu­tion) can be al­lot­ted a fixed num­ber of chances to re­vise that de­ci­sion based on whether mo­ti­vated rea­son­ing con­tributed to that de­ci­sion. If the in­sti­tu­tion made a de­ci­sion (on one is­sue) in­volv­ing no mo­ti­vated rea­son­ing in its first go, then they could be re­warded with an ex­tra re­vi­sion chance for the next is­sue they make a de­ci­sion on and pre­sent to the com­mit­tee. Failure to avoid mo­ti­vated rea­son­ing on a given de­ci­sion will re­sult in no ex­tra re­vi­sion chance for the next is­sue they make a de­ci­sion on. In the case that the in­sti­tu­tion fails to avoid mo­ti­vated rea­son­ing on all of its al­lot­ted chances, then as a last re­sort the proc­tor­ing com­mit­tee would have to make the fi­nal de­ci­sion on the is­sue.

In con­clu­sion, al­though the non-par­ti­san­ship of the com­mit­tee is sup­posed to safe­guard against bias, this may not en­tirely pre­vent bias in the com­mit­tee’s proc­tor­ing of the in­sti­tu­tion’s de­ci­sion. Per­haps the ledger sys­tem used by the com­mit­tee could be a blockchain sys­tem. In some cases de­ci­sions in­fluenced by mo­ti­vated rea­son­ing could lead to pos­i­tive out­comes, and of course the com­mit­tee must also take this into con­sid­er­a­tion when proc­tor­ing the de­ci­sion made by the in­sti­tu­tion.