Unusual Suspects

Unusual Suspects Book

Essays on Social Learning Disabilities

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This book looks into the forces at work that have undermined critical thinking and sound intellectual inquiry in the world of public affairs in Canada, have fostered reductive perspectives and destructive blockages to collaborative governance to emerge, and have succeeded in blinding observers to the real sources of the present Canadian malaise, blocking the road to imaginative repairs.

Part I deals frontally with the twilight of critical thinking that has led to a dramatic weakening of the critical examination of issues, and the process of inquiry that has been significantly weakened by ever narrower perspectives.

Part II focuses on two mental prisons: the obsessive and reductive >insistence on a quantophrenic twist (only that which can be quantified counts); and the failure by crucial partners to live up to the requirements of their burden of office in circumstances when disloyalty considerably enfeebles the possibility of effective collaborative governance and the chance for organizations to succeed.

Part III suggests that it is not impossible to get rid of the blinders preventing the adoption of more synoptic approaches, and the exploration of more imaginative designs to repair our organizations and institutions. Ways to deal with the challenges facing the Canadian socio-economy are hinted at, and the work of a successful social architect showcased.

The conclusion makes the case for an approach that is both synoptic and guided by reasonableness – against the dogmas of disciplines and skimpy rationality.

Gilles Paquet is Professor Emeritus at the Telfer School of Management, a Senior Research Fellow at the Centre on Governance of the University of Ottawa, and Editor in Chief of www.optimumonline.ca, an electronic journal on public governance and management that reaches some 10,000 subscribers. For more information, visit his website www.gouvernance.ca.


Introduction: On Social Learning Disabilities

  • Preamble
  • A new twist to the entitlement mentality
  • Unfinished business: an attack on the pneumopathological
  • The general line of argument
  • Acknowledgements

Part I On Liberating Learning

Chapter 1 On Critical Thinking

  • Preamble
  • Defining critical thinking
  • Critical description for critical thinking
  • Exorcizing mental prisons to avoid crippling epistemologies
  • Preventing asocial and unethical conduct and outcomes
  • Triangulation I: to undo harms
  • Triangulation II: to design new alternatives
  • Conclusion

Chapter 2 On Inquiring

  • Introduction
  • Inquiring into the practice of administration
  • Delta knowledge
  • Professional practice, transduction and connoisseurship
  • The social practitioner as inquirer and explorer
  • Conflicting frames and circumscribed settings
  • Delta knowledge and exploration capabilities
  • Conclusion

Part II On Exorcizing Pathologies

Chapter 3 On Quantophrenia

  • Introduction
  • Crippling epistemologies and policy pseudo-sciences
  • Words of caution about the quantophrenic cosmology
  • The danger of an overly sanitized stylization of the public policy process
  • The seduction of quantophrenia
  • The quagmire of performance evaluation
  • The crippling potentialities of quantophrenia
  • Uniformization in the face of pluralism and change
  • Steering effects
  • Management Accountability Framework (MAF) as an innocuous illustration
  • The unintended costs of quantophrenia
  • The ergonomics of the public policy process: focus on affordances
  • Conclusion

Chapter 4 On Disloyalty

  • Introduction
  • Loyalty and disloyalty as different nebulas
  • Some basic points
  • Shades of disloyalty
  • Setting and source of our hypothesis
  • Is disloyalty increasing?
  • Disloyalty as akin to the underground economy phenomenon
  • Analytical framework
  • Disloyalty is growing: some conjectures
  • Some things to keep in mind
  • Mechanisms at work
  • In praise of anecdotal evidence
  • Four clarifying vignettes
  • The virtue of dissent
  • Whistle-blowing
  • Affectio societatis
  • The myth of the state clergy
  • Conclusion

Part III On The Canadian Scene

Chapter 5 On The Canadian Malaise

  • Introduction
  • A sample of sources of concern
  • Why such cognitive-dissonance-cum-inertia?
  • Culture of entitlement
  • The demise of critical thinking
  • Cult of atonement
  • Political correctness
  • Failure to confront
  • Unreasonable accommodation
  • A perfect quiet cultural capitulation
  • What to do?
  • Conclusion

Chapter 6 On Tom Courchene as Savanturier

  • Introduction
  • Canadian economics and a prudent heretic
  • Une connaissance charnelle of the Canadian socio-economy
  • Quebec and Ontario
  • Community of the ‘Canadas,’ First Nations’ province, and a state of mind
  • Auspices, futuribles and the viewpoint from a crane
  • The new frontier for a market populist
  • Conclusion

Conclusion On Synthesis and Reasonableness

  • Preamble
  • Blending of perspectives in a chaotic age
  • Synthesis as conduit, and reasonableness as guidepost
  • Four challenges
  • Coda


    Quality Paperback with tables, 5½×8½” 193 pg, Publication date: June 2014, ISBN 978-1-927465-14-1: $15.95

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