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Pragmatic Knowledge Codes


The article explains a research program that stems from the author's recent book, How to think about social problems (1994), where she argues for a reorganization of the domains of knowledge in public policy and planning into explicit, pragmatic knowledge codes. The author argues that knowledge in the public policy and planning fields is the common knowledge necessary for informed and responsible participation in public affairs, and thus a necessary condition for creating participatory, democratic communities in modern society.

The research project Thalia, outlined here, aims to show how expert knowledge in a relatively simple urban planning knowledge domain, urban forestry, can be made explicit and simulated. Thalia involves the appkation of an artificial intelligence cognitive architecture, FORR (FOr the Right Reasons), developed by computer scientist Susan Epstein. FORR is an architecture particularly promising for public policy and planning because of its ability to incorporate pluralism and pragmatism.

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