Summary of "Confronting Values in Policy Analysis: The Politics of Criteria"

Summary of

Confronting Values in Policy Analysis: The Politics of Criteria

By Frank Fischer and John Forester

Summary written by T.A. O'Lonergan, Conflict Research Consortium

Citation: Confronting Values in Policy Analysis: The Politics of Criteria, Frank Fischer and John Forester, (eds), ( California: Sage Publications, 1987), 284pp.

Confronting Values in Policy Analysis: The Politics of Criteria is required reading for PSCI 5086-7086 as taught by Professor Charles Lester and ARSC 5010/7010 as taught by Dr. Guy Burgess and Professor Lester. The work will be of interest to those who wish to understand why policy is not value neutral. The book is divided into five sections, each comprised of essays by different authors concerned with an overarching topic. The first section concerns the principles and practices which underlie public policy. The first essay addresses the effects of political philosophy and practical reason on policy analysis. The second essay questions whether policy analysis can be ethical.

The second section of the book addresses the technocratic bias inherent in the utilization of experts in particular areas of concern for policy-makers. In an examination of policy science and the administrative state, John Byrne offers an essay titled "The political economy of cost-benefit analysis". In the second essay in this section, Fischer presents a critique of the Neo-conservative thesis. Section three focuses upon normative theory and methodology and begins with an examination of interpretation and the practice of policy analysis. Forester discusses normative practices in planning and policy analysis. The final essay in this section offers a methodological critique of policy science and rational choice theory.

Section four addresses professional responsibility. Ethics and the policy analyst is the topic of the first essay. Leonard A. Cole discusses the ethical problems inherent in the Army's biological warfare tests. The final section examines three policy cases. The first case addresses the politics of criteria, using as an example the planning for the redevelopment of Times Square. The middle essay discusses the symbolic side of policy analysis, using as illustration the interpretation of policy change in a health department. The final essay addresses economic theory in practice. The example used here is the White House oversight of OSHA health standards.

Confronting Values in Policy Analysis: The Politics of Criteria is an examination of the values which underlie and drive policy analysis, explicitly or implicitly. The majority of the authors are political scientists, yet the perspectives offered in this work are broader than that association would suggest.