Ethics for Policymaking: A Methodological Analysis

Ethics for Policymaking: A Methodological Analysis

Ethics for Policymaking: A Methodological Analysis

Ethics for Policymaking: A Methodological Analysis

Synopsis

Meehan presents a sustained argument that deals with the relationship between normative judgements or arguments and ethical policymaking, advocating a somewhat different approach to providing a justification for acting in a particular way, whether individually or collectively. The overall objective is to establish the knowledge requirements, empirical and normative for defensible or corrigible policymaking; to identify the intellectual requirements for directing actions and thereby to produce findings that will be useful for improving intellectual performance in the conduct of real world affairs.

Excerpt

This volume continues and extends a study of the intellectual foundations of individual and collective action that has now been in progress for a number of years. (The bibliographic note at the end of the chapter summarizes the results that have been published to date.) the overall objective of the study is to establish the knowledge requirements, empirical and normative, for defensible or corrigible policymaking. However, the meaning of "knowledge" and "policy," as well as such related concepts as "epistemology," varies so widely in both everyday and technical usage that the precise content and significance of the objective, and the extent to which the effort to achieve it has been properly directed--not to say successful--cannot be assessed until the meaning of basic terms has been stabilized. the problem is not unique to the present inquiry; differences in the way in which those, and other similar terms, are defined and applied is a major source of misunderstanding and disagreement among those concerned with furthering the quest for knowledge in almost every field, particularly those outside the physical sciences.

In the circumstances, it might seem the course of wisdom to avoid conventional terminology altogether and rely instead on descriptive statements, or invent new labels to replace those in use. However, there are good reasons to insist on the legitimacy of using "knowledge," "policy," and other related terms in ways that further a systematic effort to provide the intellectual foundations for human actions. Most importantly, the assistance that might be obtained from closely related fields of systematic inquiry would have to be foregone if that strategy were adopted. the traditional labels are therefore retained, but the . . .

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