Thesis presentation upcoming


in Daily updates, M.Phil thesis, Oxford, Politics, Science, The environment, Writing

Tree and sky, abstract

This coming Wednesday, I am to present my thesis plan to a dozen of my classmates and two professors. The need to do so is forcing further thinking upon exactly what questions I want to ask, and how to approach them. The officially submitted title for the work is: Expertise and Legitimacy: the Role of Science in Global Environmental Policy-Making. The following questions come immediately to mind:

  1. What do the differences between the Stockholm Convention on POPs and the Kyoto Protocol tell us about the relationship between science and environmental policy?
  2. What issues of political legitimacy are raised when an increasing number of policy decisions are being made either by scientists themselves, or on the basis of scientific conclusions?
  3. How do scientists and politicians each reach conclusions about the nature of the world, and what sort of action should be taken in it. How do those differences in approach manifest themselves in policy?

The easiest part of the project will be writing up the general characteristics of both Stockholm and Kyoto. Indeed, I keep telling myself that I will write at least the beginning of that chapter any time now. The rest of the thesis will depend much more on examination of the many secondary literatures that exist.

The answers that will be developed are going to be primarily analytic, rather than empirical. The basis for their affirmation or refutation will be logic, and the extent to which the viewpoints presented are useful for better understanding the world.

Points that seem likely to be key are the stressing of the normative issues that are entangled in technical decision making. Also likely to be highlighted is the importance of process: it is not just the outcome that is important, when we are talking about environmental policy, but the means by which the outcome was reached. Two dimensions of the question that I mean to highlight are normative concerns relating to the North/South divide and issues in international law. The latter is both a potential mechanism for the development and enforcement of international environmental regimes and a source of thought about issues of distribution, justice, and responsibility that pertains to these questions.

I realize that this is going to need to become a whole lot more concrete and specific by 2:30pm on Wednesday. A re-think of my thesis outline is probably also in order. I should also arrange to speak with Dr. Hurrell about it soon; having not seen him since the beginning of term, there is a certain danger of the thesis project drifting more than it ought to. Whatever thesis presentation I ultimately come up with will be posted on the wiki, just as all of my notes from this term have been, excepting those where people presenting have requested otherwise.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

R.K. November 11, 2006 at 6:19 pm

Expertise and Legitimacy: the Role of Science in Global Environmental Policy-Making

jumble, jumble

Hyperelegant, idiotical extremes. Songlike of complaining celibacy. Internal venom.

Milan November 14, 2006 at 3:43 pm

The presentation, when finished, will appear on the wiki.

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