Environmental pragmatism ecocentrism and deliberative democracy

ROBYN ECKERSLEY

How might our framing devices - both informal (through aesthetic judgements) and formal (for example, through systems thinking) - help to provide space in relaying understanding and support for more effective policy design? The question is taken up in the second half of the original reading by Andrew Light (Reading 9) in pursuing the fourth debate in environmental ethics - between monists and pluralists. Robyn Eckersley takes as her point of departure the same debate in an attempt to identify how particular approaches to valuing nature - considering nature 'matters' - might influence policy and action. She regards monists as ecocentric 'advocates' and pluralists as 'mediators' associated with environmental pragmatism. While Light is regarded as a 'mediator', Eckersley adopts a more circumscribed view of environmental pragmatism - providing 'a sympathetic critique'. As a political theorist, Eckersley identifies three weaknesses of the pragmatist tradition and delineates circumstances where such framing can be of value and where other more challenging monist-based approaches might be more appropriate. The reading makes reference to ideas of social learning and deliberative democracy picked up subsequently in Parts Three and Four of this anthology, but more immediately invites attention to the kind of cognitive space required for citizen involvement referred to in Reading 14.

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