Academic journal article Electronic Green Journal

Review: Deliberative Environmental Politics: Democracy and Ecological Rationality

Academic journal article Electronic Green Journal

Review: Deliberative Environmental Politics: Democracy and Ecological Rationality

Article excerpt

Review: Deliberative Environmental Politics: Democracy and Ecological Rationality By Walter F. Baber and Robert V. Bartlett Reviewed by Govind Gopakumar Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, USA Walter F.Baberand Robert V. Bartlett. Deliberative Environmental Politics - Democracy & Ecological Rationality. Cambridge MA: The MIT Press, 2005, 276 pp. ISBN: 0-262-52444-9. US $ 24.00 paperback, alkali paper.

Deliberative democracy has with unusual alacrity become a popular shibboleth within such diverse fields as science and technology assessment, international development practice and, crucially, global environmental protection efforts. Multilateral aid donors, national governments, and public agencies who frame public policies in science, technology and the environment, have all sought to incorporate deliberation within their programs with the hope that it translates into "better" democratic implementation than characterized by "business as usual" liberal democracy. This frame shift in public policies, according to the authors, is matched within "the theory of democracy ..... [by] a strong deliberative turn in recent decades" (p. 6). This book successfully brings a strong analytical focus to bear on the potential of deliberative democratic instances to foster the development of an ecological reasoning. The authors categorize the disparate "participants within this theoretical dance" into at least three significant models - "one anchored in the theory of justice of John Rawls; a second derived from the critical theory of Jurgen Habermas; and a third advanced by Bohman, Gutmann and Thompson ... that embraces and seeks to realize the traditional tenets of liberal constitutionalism" (p. 6-7).

The book is divided into two sections, each of which maps the threefold classification of deliberative democracy the authors have assumed. The first section, composed of chapters 3-6, launches an intense theoretical inquiry by subjecting each typology of deliberative environmental democracy to a menu of analytical queries: what are the prerequisites? What counts as success in deliberation? What is the style of reasoning for public deliberation? What are the roles of experts? (p 33). The second section, consisting of chapters 7-11, adopt as less theoretically demanding style sprinkled with illustrative examples in order to outline the insertion of the theoretical project of environmental deliberation within established liberal democracy and institutions of the administrative state (p 121). …

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