This book examines the tensions between political authority and expert authority in the formation of public policy in liberal democracies. It aims to illustrate and better understand the nature of these tensions rather than to argue specific ways of resolving them. The various chapters explore the complexity of interaction between the two forms of authority in different policy domains in order to identify both common elements and differences. The policy domains covered include: climate geoengineering discourses; environmental health; biotechnology; nuclear power; whaling; economic management; and the use of force.
This volume will appeal to researchers and to convenors of post-graduate courses in the fields of policy studies, foreign policy decision-making, political science, environmental studies, democratic system studies, and science policy studies.
Central to his work are the epistemological problems encountered in the production of �truth.� Science does not produce incontestable facts that can be expected to lead to consensus decisions; rather, the problematic nature of knowledge itself allows for various interpretations of data depending on the interests of those at the table. It is precisely the nature of scientific knowledge, Heazle argues, that has made uncertainty a tool in service of political objectives. When scientific advice to whaling nations could not with absolute certainty declare whaling practices a threat to stocks, those IWC members with substantial investments of political and economic capital used this uncertainty to reject a reduction in quotas. As perceptions of whaling changed - with the collapse of Antarctic whaling stocks, further diminishing economic returns, and public opinion turning against commercial whaling -- uncertainty switched sides. Nonwhaling members in the IWC, a majority by the late 1970s, claimed that because scientific data could not prove that commercial whaling was sustainable, hunting should stop. Uncertainty was used to protect the resource rather than the industry.
That science cannot be an impartial determinant in policy-making decisions does not render it useless. But Heazle�s analysis does suggest that without understanding the role of scientific uncertainty - and the political purposes for which it is used - international cooperation on wildlife management and broader issues will continue to become bogged down in arguments over whose science is correct.