I am presently working on the draft introduction for my thesis: Expertise and Legitimacy: the Role of Science in Global Environmental Policy-Making. Given the title, it is essential to get the definitions of ‘expertise’ and ‘legitimacy’ right. Here’s what I have so far:
â€˜Expertiseâ€™ and â€˜legitimacyâ€™ are terms in need of further discussion. For the purposes of this thesis, each is being assigned a specific meaning less exhaustive than the full range of connotations in normal language.
â€˜Expertiseâ€™ is taken to mean: “the possession of skills that allow for a greater ability to understand the nature of the world, particularly in ways that allow it to be more effectively altered. The latter criterion is important because it distinguishes science â€“ which ultimately allows for the development of new technologies â€“ from endeavours like philosophy, which may yield greater understanding of the world, but do not do so in ways that generate new ways of physically interacting with it.”
‘Legitimacyâ€™ is taken to mean: “the property of being seen as empowered to take decisions that impact others, on the basis of their active consent, a theoretically based political authority, or a combination of the two. The possession of legitimacy is necessarily both subjective and normative in character.”
In brief, when asked to justify their seats at the negotiating table, those with expertise will do so with reference to what they can reveal about the world and how human beings can act within it; those with legitimacy will do so with reference to the people they are representing, the theory that justifies such delegation, and material demonstrations that their theoretical support is manifest in practice (for instance, through elections).
One thing that I mean to do in the introduction is flag the most important contested terms and either provide a brief explanation, like the one above, or refer to the place in the thesis where I will do so. For instance, the idea of an environmental ‘problem’ is being discussed at the beginning of Chapter 2: “Problem identification and investigation.”