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Being reasonable: how does rationality affect participatory environmental governance?

Smyth, Caer ORCID: 2018. Being reasonable: how does rationality affect participatory environmental governance? Sustainable Management of Natural Resources: Legal Instruments and Approaches, Intersentia, pp. 211-228. (10.1017/9781780687834.013)
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The precarious state of our natural environment is an urgent issue that demands a close examination of our legal systems and the ways of thinking underpinning these systems. In this chapter I contend that the decisions produced in participatory environmental decision-making processes are shaped by rationalist assumptions, and that this can undermine arguments for the environment. This chapter will explore the rationalist assumptions that shape spaces for public participation in environmental decision-making, firstly by introducing some initial findings from ongoing empirical research taking place at a public inquiry into a major infrastructure project with significant environmental implications. From there, the chapter will consider how these initial findings might be accounted for by exploring key assumptions in Enlightenment rationality and in Habermas’s theory of communicative rationality. This chapter will additionally explore how these assumptions inform participation in environmental decision-making, and how these assumptions are challenged by environmental justice theorists.

Item Type: Book Section
Status: Published
Schools: Law
Publisher: Intersentia
ISBN: 9781780687834
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 12 February 2020
Date of Acceptance: 21 May 2018
Last Modified: 07 Nov 2022 09:34

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