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Knowledge-based communities

The concept of "epistemic communities" was developed by Peter Haas (1992) to focus attention on the communities of "experts" that have grown up in the world of environmental policies, influential in defining the dimensions of a problem and proposing solutions (ibid:42-3). He defines epistemic communities as "transnational networks of knowledge-based communities that are both politically empowered through their claims to exercise authoritative knowledge and motivated by shared causal and principled beliefs" (ibid:41). Though direct descent is denied, Vogler sees links with the older "neo-functionalist" view of international organization, particularly in its opposition between politics and "ecologically sound consensual knowledge" (Vogler, 1995:204-5).

Environmental issues, in particular, tend to involve political and social as well as scientific issues. Keith Clayton (1995:128) argues "The environmental sciences exist in a world of power, prejudice, wishful thinking and unjustified alarm." O'Riordan (1995:112) comments: "One can see very quickly how science can be ambushed for ideological and political purposes."

References

Summary

Introduction

The scientific consensus

The problems of consensus

The politics of consensus

The threshold of danger

The politics of science

Knowledge-based communities

'Greenwash'

Buying scientific credibility

Science and the three paradigms

A utilitarian hypothesis

A cobweb model, modified

Conclusion

What the Panel Said


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