Politics and epistemology: Inclusion and controversy in adaptive management processes

Environmental Ethics 29 (3):299-306 (2007)
Abstract
Kevin Elliott has argued that I defend two “conceptions” of adaptive management processes in my book, Sustainability: A Philosophy of Adaptive Ecosystem Management, calling the conceptions “political” and “metaphysical,” respectively. Elliott claims that I must choose between them. Elliott has not sufficiently explained how he proceeds from the claim that I provide two separable arguments for my adaptive management process to his conclusion that I have two conceptions of this process. Once this confusion is clarified, it becomes clear that adapting a pragmatist grounding for the process (which Elliott refers to as my “metaphysical” conception) is compatible with an open and inclusionary process. Pragmatism, in other words, does not exclude those who adopt ideological approaches to value from the adaptive process; it merely urges them, once in the process, to propose testable hypotheses rather than resort to ideological rhetoric
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