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Enduring Uncertainty of Logical Action 2.0 raises important questions regarding the role of technology in a democratic society. This is perhaps the most obvious feature that recommends it to a wide audience consisting, generally, of all those who realize that tradeoffs are the trademark of human existence, and whose job or inclination is to ponder these tradeoffs and consider how the choices we make affect us and our world. This includes politicians and educators, but also the public at large, consumers and citizens whose decisions, Sunstein contends, influence more than their immediate circumstances. There are however other things to consider, which both explain and support the wide appeal of this book.

First, likely as a result of this desire to speak to as wide an audience as possible, we should remark the book’s clearly-stated arguments and accessible tone. This is no small feat considering both the complexity of the issues tackled but also, more importantly, the fact that Sunstein achieves it without sacrificing the quality or quantity of the information offered or through a one-sided, simplistic perspective. Quite the opposite, and this is another strong recommendation for the text, out of a desire to contextualize the topics he addresses, the author does not hesitate to offer historical and legal perspectives that not only promote a better understanding of his arguments but also provide clear and important reminders of the political and philosophical principles that founded the American republic. Further, most important from a scholarly perspective is the willingness the book shows to ask the difficult questions that need to be asked in the face of the momentuous changes our society undergoes along with the equally important willingness made explicit from the very title, and then again at various points in the text, to revisit one’s argument in order to find out how it stacks up against any new evidence. This contributes not just to the rhetorical weight of the arguments the author proposes, but it also suggests he is keenly tuned to the fast-changing nature of the phenomena he discusses and very much concerned with maintaining the dialogue initiated.

Lastly, philosophically, one cannot ignore a very interesting notion that Sunstein’s constant return to legal and technological precedent gives rise to, and which he acknowledges early on in the book: that any potential technology-related problems we might face are going to come about “not because consumers are usually confused, irrational, or malevolent” but rather “because choices that seem perfectly reasonable in insolation may, when taken together, badly disserve democratic goals” (13). Again, this implication is supported, sometimes against Sunstein’s own intention, by his referral to political decisions in the past that, while seeming perfectly appropriate in dealing with the issues of the day, did not ultimately come without undesired consequences. A good example is the creation of the Electoral College that, as he notes, “was originally a deliberative body ensuring that the choice of the president would result from some combination of popular will and reflection and exchange on the part of the representatives” (34). The closest Sunstein comes to acknowledging that this choice of the founders did not come without its own problematic baggage is in stating what the “original” intentions were, thus implying, perhaps, that those intentions are not necessarily still to be found in the institution today.

This suggestion of the enduring uncertainty of logical action that 2.0 illustrates, sometimes intentionally and sometimes not, is ultimately one of its most significant contributions because it expresses a truth that is equally applicable to the choices the book supports and to those it challenges. At the same time, accepting this notion should further empower critical thinking about even our most reasonable decisions and enable us to see what a daunting task this kind of critical thinking will always face.

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