Re: Risk Management
From: Sharon Villines (
Date: Thu, 13 Jul 2017 17:44:45 -0700 (PDT)
> On Jul 13, 2017, at 8:29 PM, R Philip Dowds <rpdowds [at]> wrote:

> We are dangerously close to splitting semantic hairs, but … When you use the 
> word “you”, I think what you really mean is “everyone" = everyone 
> participating in the process and arriving at the same shared result, so your 
> sentence really goes, “Consent means only that everyone is willing to consent 
> … do not have any objections that would prevent anyone from supporting …”  
> For the purpose of casual conversation, this closely resembles a group that 
> has arrived at unanimity about something, however narrowly it may be 
> contrived.

I don’t agree. On Sunday we were making a decision that one person did not 
agree with because she wanted the decision to go farther. She finally said it 
was sometimes best to go the direction the horse was going and eventually she 
might get where she wanted to go.

She consented to moving forward with the decision, but she didn’t consent that 
a narrow solution was best, as others did.

A group decision is first a decision about whether I have any objections to the 
proposed action. The second is that given all the circumstances — which 
includes what others want and think — do I consent to moving forward. I might 
still disagree and object but can live with it. At least for the time being.

One reason not to confuse unanimity and solidarity with consensus is because 
they have their own virtues and are needed for some kinds of decision needs. 
The President of a group that uses sociocracy once said, I don’t want to hear 
consent, I want to hear commitment. We all had consented to a proposal but what 
she really wanted was commitment to fully support and work for it. She wanted 
solidarity — not consent.

Sharon Villines
Takoma Village Cohousing, Washington DC

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