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Scientists and World Order: The Uses of Technical Knowledge in International Organizations

By Ernst B. Haas; Mary Pat Williams | Go to book overview

Chapter 6
Decision-Making and Institutional Attributes of World Order Models

The coal dust which the smokestacks of the Ruhr belch into the atmosphere settles in Sweden in the form of black snow. The hurricanes diverted from Florida by seeding them with silver iodine may ravage Cuba and destroy its sugar crop. Meteorologists are able to tell us why and how this happens and they can also suggest, once they can model large-scale atmospheric phenomena, how such events can be avoided. Work along these lines goes on in the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and in its affiliated groups of scientists working in their individual capacities. How does this work enter the calculations of governments? How, if at all, does it change their perceptions of what is desirable and permissible? What institutions might be created as a result of changed perceptions?

We now take up the second major issue of our study: What is the relationship between the perceptions of internationally active scientists and the evolution of international cooperative programs for harnessing science to social objectives. Out concern with world order as implied by science cannot be limited to specifying the attitudes and experiences of key scientists. We must now ask whether and how these beliefs are linked to policy-making in international fora.

In Part 1 we defined the idea of "world order" as a way of linking knowledge to the making of collective decisions. These decisions, in turn, were imagined to call for comprehensive planning and thus for the creation of new institutions capable of formulating and implementing plans. The "perfect" rationalist world order would resemble a conclave of statesmen devoted to mastering the future by assuring everyone of a minimum standard of living and a wholesome physical environment. This conclave would be advised by a panel of scientists reasonably certain that they possessed the knowledge of nature--or were able to obtain it--which must be respected in order to meet these goals.

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