Ex post evaluation: A more effective role for scientific assessments in environmental policy

Charles Herrick, Daniel Sarewitz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

53 Scopus citations

Abstract

Unreasonable expectations about the nature and character of scientific knowledge support the widespread political assumption that predictive scientific assessments are a necessary precursor to environmental decision making. All too often, the practical outcome of this assumption is that scientific uncertainty becomes a ready-made dodge for what is in reality just a difficult political decision. Interdisciplinary assessments necessary to address complex environmental policy issues invariably result in findings that are inherently contestable, especially when applied in the unrestrained realm of partisan politics. In this article, the authors argue that predictive scientific assessments are inherently limited in the extent to which they can guide policy development and that rigorous scientific assessments can be much more valuable in the role of expost policy evaluation than they can in the context of ex ante policy formulation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)309-331
Number of pages23
JournalScience Technology and Human Values
Volume25
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2000
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anthropology
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Philosophy
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Human-Computer Interaction

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