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Is a Little Pollution Good for You?Incorporating Societal Values in Environmental Research$
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Kevin Elliott

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199755622

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199755622.001.0001

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Lesson #2

Lesson #2

Diagnosing Deliberation

(p.109) 5 Lesson #2
Is a Little Pollution Good for You?

Kevin C. Elliott

Oxford University Press

This chapter explores the last of the options considered in chapter 4 for preventing interest groups' questionable influences on scientific research. It argues that there are normative, substantive, and instrumental reasons for pursuing formal mechanisms for broadly based deliberation to guide the value judgments associated with policy‐relevant science. Nevertheless, because these forums can involve a wide range of mechanisms and strategies for representing affected parties, and because deliberative proceedings have weaknesses as well as strengths, the chapter calls for more careful “diagnosis” of the mechanisms appropriate in response to particular areas of research. It develops a three‐step diagnostic model inspired by the account proposed in the NRC volume Understanding Risk. Applying this diagnostic procedure to the hormesis case, the chapter calls for a mixed deliberative approach. In the near term, it recommends that policy makers examine the hormesis phenomenon in either an existing scientific advisory committee or a special advisory council created to represent the range of important stakeholder perspectives on hormesis. This council could address some of the major judgments identified in Chapter 2, such as prioritizing future areas of research, proposing definitions of key terms under debate, and evaluating the evidence for the generalizability and regulatory implications of hormesis. If the advisory council were to conclude, now or in the future, that the evidence warranted considering regulatory changes in response to hormesis, then a more intensive deliberative proceeding such as a consensus conference might be justified. These formal exercises could serve as a valuable starting point for informal political action by concerned citizens' groups.

Keywords:   deliberation, value judgments, public participation, consent, hormesis, advisory committees, consensus conferences, citizens' juries

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