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date: 01 March 2021

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter examines the relation between environmental science and politics with regard to its implications for environmental values, expert advice, and the public understanding of science. Environmental thinkers have offered powerful critiques of modern science, but they have also relied on science both to understand environmental problems and to legitimate political responses to them. Ironically, both romantic critics of science and their rationalist opponents tend to assume that the relation between science and politics is fixed and predetermined. They merely disagree on whether science will help or hinder environmental goals. Constructivist approaches, in contrast, highlight the mutual shaping of science and politics. From a constructivist perspective, the democratic legitimacy of environmental policies depends in part on environmental science. Science can inform public attitudes toward environmental policies, and it can help justify such policies. Realizing such possibilities depends on integrating science advice with various forms of public engagement.

Keywords: environmental science, environmental values, expert advice, public understanding of science, constructivism, democratic legitimacy, public engagement

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