In recent years, it has become common for opponents of environmental action to argue that the scientific basis for purported harms is uncertain, unreliable, and fundamentally unproven. In response, many scientists believe that their job is to provide the “proof ” that society needs. Both the complaint and the response are misguided. In all but the most trivial cases, science does not produce logically indisputable proofs about the natural world. At best it produces a robust consensus based on a process of inquiry that allows for continued scrutiny, re-examination, and revision. Within a scientific community, different individuals may weigh evidence differently and adhere to different standards of demonstration, and these differences are likely to be amplified when the results of inquiry have political, religious, or economic ramifications. In such cases, science can play a role by providing informed opinions about the possible consequences of our actions (or inactions), and by monitoring the effects of our choices.
Partial contents: International relations, international law, and the environment, by Robert Rienow and Clifton Wilson; Environmental policy and public administration, by Lynton K. Caldwell: Environmental policy and constitutional law, by Stuart Nagel; State and local environmental policy, by Paul A. Sabatier; Ecological politics and American national government, by Michael E. Kraft.
Since World War II, national and international policy makers have been confronted by a growing number of complex problems the resolution of which hangs, to a significant degree, on scientific knowledge or technical insights. This puts a premium on the quality and clarity of scientific/technical advice they receive. From their vantage points as scientists, policy makers or science advisors from both East and West, the authors of this book examine the issues involved in science for public policy and explore ways to improve the quality and timeliness of the scientific advice available to decisi.
The politics of public policy is a vibrant research area increasingly at the forefront of intellectual innovations in the discipline. We argue that political scientists are best positioned to undertake research on the politics of public policy when they possess expertise in particular policy areas. Policy expertise positions scholars to conduct theoretically innovative work and to ensure that empirical research reflects the reality they aim to analyze. It also confers important practical advantages, such as access to a significant number of academic positions and major sources of research funding not otherwise available to political scientists. Perhaps most importantly, scholars with policy expertise are equipped to defend the value of political science degrees and research in the public sphere.
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