Technology Wars: Mending the Failure of Democratic Discourse

75 Pages Posted: 21 Feb 2005 Last revised: 17 Jun 2016

See all articles by Gregory N. Mandel

Gregory N. Mandel

Temple University - James E. Beasley School of Law

Date Written: February 18, 2005


Controversies over the use and regulation of various technologies pervade public discourse and have serious implications for the public interest. Conflicts over the regulation of genetically modified food, nuclear power, and nanotechnology, among others, fuel some of the most socially and politically explosive debates of our time. These technology conflicts extract a substantial cost from society - they create costly inefficiencies, prevent society from optimally managing new technologies, consume vast resources, and retard technological growth.

Existing scholarship does not explain or adequately address the teleology of conflict over technology. This Article examines the nature of legal and regulatory technology conflict, diagnoses the sources of that conflict, and proposes innovative solutions to the conflicts. This analysis integrates original empirical research and a multi-disciplinary body of scholarship from the fields of law, behavioral economics, psychology, and political science, to develop a descriptive and prescriptive framework for understanding and resolving legal and regulatory technology controversies.

The proposed framework sheds light on the inefficiency, paralysis, and polarization produced by technology conflict, and on democratic and market failures that inhibit resolution of these conflicts. As a result, the framework reconceptualizes our understanding of technology controversies, revealing new ways to improve social welfare by resolving seemingly intractable legal and regulatory standoffs. These teachings have potentially far-reaching consequences for conflict resolution in non-technology areas as well.

Keywords: technology, conflict, conflict resolution, democratic discourse, polarize, biotechnology, nuclear, nanotechnology

JEL Classification: I18,K20,K23,K30,K32,K40,O30,O32,O33,O38

Suggested Citation

Mandel, Gregory, Technology Wars: Mending the Failure of Democratic Discourse (February 18, 2005). Michigan Telecommunications and Technology Law Review, Vol. 11, No. 2, 2005. Available at SSRN: or

Gregory Mandel (Contact Author)

Temple University - James E. Beasley School of Law ( email )

1719 N. Broad Street
Philadelphia, PA 19122
United States
(215) 204-2381 (Phone)

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