A treatment, in the context of Synergistic Deliberation, is a more-formal-than-casual document, which presents, in a clean, straightforward, unembellished manner, the following kinds of mandatory information:
- The subject of the treatment. Perhaps the most important thing to establish at the beginning of a treatment is the subject of said treatment. This informs the reader what context within which all content within the treatment should be regarded. The content of a treatment should be strictly limited to that which is relevant to the subject. The subject should only be a want. If, instinctively, the subject seems like it should be a fear, or a combination of the two, then the want should be to address and relieve said fear. There should never be more than one subject for a given treatment.
- At least two stakeholders. In any action in life, there are at least two stakeholders: a stakeholder which gains from the achievement of a want, and a stakeholder which loses from the achievement of a want. Within these two extremes, there is a spectrum of possible other stakeholders, each having their own degree of impact from the achievemnt of that want. The fundamental postulate on which this relies is that no action comes from its own power, as all actions are undertaken within a system that is not closed unto itself. As such, something must be expended to produce a change, and that change is the achievement of a want. Stakeholders need not be people, and furthermore, need not be sentient. The principle still remains: something must be lost to produce a change.
- At least one fear. A fear is a concern which is held by at least one stakeholder in the outcome of an achieved want. Since stakeholders can be non-sentient, the fear can be something as simple as the depletion of a finite resource. Since stakeholders can be sentient, the fear can also be something as extreme, or more extreme than, the genocide or extinction of a species or group of people. The fear of the stakeholder that has the most to gain from the achievement of the want is a given – the failure to achieve the want – and therefore need not be stated. However, if the want itself is to avoid a fear, and not simply for the purpose of benefiting from the gain that results from the achievement of said want, then it would be appropriate to state said fear, so that it can be taken into consideration in conjunction with the other fears involved.
- At least one approach. An approach is a way in which a want can be obtained, while at the same time addressing all fears associated with the achievement of said want. An approach which completely prevents all associated fears, while still allowing for the achievement of the subject, is said to be a perfectly synergistic approach. It should be noted that this is expected to be rare – as aforementioned, change does not happen within its own closed system, and therefore something must be lost in order to produce the change that is achieving the given want. Accordingly, the addressing of fears should include a characterization of to what degree those fears are prevented. In this way, approaches can be more readily compared by the degree to which fears are not allayed, as one way of placing value on one approach over another.
A treatment can also contain the following optional information:
- The author(s) of the treatment. A treatment can certainly be authored by one person, and can also certainly be authored by several persons. This is optional because a treatment can, at the sole discretion of the author(s), also be made anonymously. Providing authorship does prevent risks to the reception of the treatment: logical fallacies such as an appeal to authority, an appeal to popularity, and ad hominem attacks, to name but a few possibilities. It is, however, certainly valueable, to a degree, to consider how many different minds labored to produce the treatment, and certainly, whether the stances of those minds on the issues involved were heterogenous or diverse. Again, however, this should not be given too considerable a weight: the quality of a treatment has no guarantee based on the number of people, the expertise of those people, nor the diversity of views held by those people.
- References. A treatment can certainly utilize the reasoning put forth by others, by referring to other documents, works, and so forth. Care should be taken, not only to provide adequate credit to the authors of those other works, but also not to rely too heavily on those other works to fill in the substance of the treatment. If one were to do so, the treatment would effectively be reduced to a meta analysis of existing research on the subject. References, therefore, should only be submitted as evidence in support for the validity of a premise, not as evidence in support of the arguments that follow from them.