Non-Epistemic Values in Adaptive Management: Framing Possibilities in the Legal Context of Endangered Columbia River Salmon

Forthcoming in Environmental Values (accepted Sept. 26, 2017)

33 Pages Posted: 21 Nov 2017

See all articles by Shana Hirsch

Shana Hirsch

University of Idaho Water Resources

Jerrold A. Long

University of Idaho College of Law

Date Written: September 26, 2017

Abstract

Courts have determined that adaptive management does not satisfy the Endangered Species Act’s requirement to use the “best available science.” This is due, in part, to the failure to recognize the role of non-epistemic values in science. We examine the role of values in the legal controversy over the scientific reports and adaptive management plans for endangered salmon in the Columbia River Basin. To do this, we employ philosophical concepts related to risk and uncertainty that demonstrate how non-epistemic values are internal to science. We describe how, because adaptive management is a method for dealing with inductive risk, by remaining flexible, responsive, and adaptive in those circumstances where the costs of making a mistake are very high, it requires special attention to ensure that it remains useful. We conclude that, because non-epistemic values will inevitably influence the “best available science,” it is critical that they are clarified in any adaptive management planning so that we can ensure the salmon conservation that the ESA mandates. Fortunately, because adaptive management is iterative in nature and includes opportunities for engagement between policy-makers and scientists, it enables clarification of non-epistemic values through making standards of evidence transparent, acknowledging aims and goals, and dealing with uncertainty at the institutional level.

Keywords: adaptive management, non-epistemic values

Suggested Citation

Hirsch, Shana and Long, Jerrold A., Non-Epistemic Values in Adaptive Management: Framing Possibilities in the Legal Context of Endangered Columbia River Salmon (September 26, 2017). Forthcoming in Environmental Values (accepted Sept. 26, 2017). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3073286

Shana Hirsch

University of Idaho Water Resources ( email )

875 Perimeter Drive
Moscow, ID 83844
United States

Jerrold A. Long (Contact Author)

University of Idaho College of Law ( email )

P.O. Box 442321
Moscow, ID 83844-2321
United States

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