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Science in international negotiations

The Climate Change Convention: a load of hot air?

By Peter Hulm

A utilitarian hypothesis

Vogler sees the inadequacies of both perspectives and suggests a "utilitarian hypothesis" of stable and self-sustaining regimes (1995:207). "The recent history of environmental régime-building and change reveals that, contrary to the fixed motivational assumptions of both realism and liberal utilitarianism, shifting public values and their articulation by what might loosely be described as idealistic political movements cannot be discounted," he observes (ibid:208).

Such multiple-paradigm explanations are common enough in global political issues that they require a collective label. I would suggest "post-realism", recognising the predominant role of state institutions in the present international system, while giving full weight to other factors, such as industry and epistemic communities. "Post-realism" accepts that science policy is expressed internationally through the "world of states" (Miller, 1981:12) but it can only be fully understood via John Burton's "cobweb model" (Mitchell, 1984; p62) of political structures and processes rather than through the "billiard ball" (conflictual) metaphor (ibid).

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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