Modest Pragmatic Lessons for a Diverse and Incoherent Environmental Law
33 Oxford Journal of Legal Studies (2013)
35 Pages Posted: 12 Nov 2013
Date Written: November 12, 2013
This paper seeks to contribute to ongoing debates on the nature and foundations of environmental law. In doing so, the paper accepts the claim made in much of the recent analytical environmental law scholarship that the discipline suffers from a lack of coherence. In a response to this claim, the paper probes the potential reasons behind this incoherence. In relying on recent scholarship in the disciplines of social psychology and cultural cognition, the paper argues that individual understanding of environmental risks in accordance with a priori held beliefs and values aided by cognitive biases, lends support to a scenario of multiple and diverse understandings of environmental problems. This diversity is in turn reflected in both the form and content of environmental law. In a response to this diversity and incoherence, the paper identifies the philosophy of pragmatism and argues that a modest interpretation of pragmatism has the potential to alleviate the biases and heuristics which give rise to the individual understanding of environmental risks.
Keywords: environmental law, pragmatism, cultural cognition, social psychology
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