Within a community, a decision can be made in various different ways and for many different reasons.
Decisions can be made by:
- Edict - where a leader makes a decision. This is the preferred method of authoritarianism.
- Compromise - where competing parties negotiate a resolution they each hope will provide them with the most benefit while still being able to get buy-in from other parties. This is the preferred method of representative democracy.
- Synthesis - where competing parties seek a novel solution which satisfies all of the primary objectives of each party by deeply examining the root cause of their disagreement. This is the preferred mechanism of collaborative governance.
A community needs to make many different kinds of decisions in order to function stably.
Laws of civil order
Most communities, especially governments, have rules of unacceptable behavior. The most common is a rule against murder, though there are countless others.
Sometimes communities pass laws which prohibit (or require) certain behavior because the majority or consensus of that society believes that that behavior is ethically bad (or good).
Regulations declare that when certain conditions are met, people are required to act a certain way. Examples:
- When two automobiles approach an intersection, regulations determine how they should behave.
- When a business produces a product for general distribution, a regulation may require that the business make verifiable declarations about the product (such as a list of ingredients in a food product).
Community projects and services
When a community decides to take an action that affects several members of the community, there can be competing interests which need to be weighed.
For example, when building a new community structure such as a bridge, there are questions of:
- Should the community spend communal funds on the project
- Where should the bridge be placed
- If building the bridge negatively impacts one or more community members, how is their concern weighed against the value of the bridge.
As part of a community's functioning, there are bureaucratic tasks that need to be tended to, such as managing funds, hiring and paying staff and vendors, and other "day-to-day" decisions.
Responses to events
A community needs to react to external events, and this usually requires making a decision. Thee events include such things as natural disasters or threats of violence from external people.
When laws or policies are made, they are usually enforced through some threat of violence.
In the case of governments, these usually entail fines, imprisonment, banishment, or death.
In the case of other communities, these often entail expulsion from the community or sanctions (fines, limitation of privileges, etc.).