Summary of "When Values Conflict: Essays on Environmental Analysis, Discourse, and Decision"

Summary of

When Values Conflict: Essays on Environmental Analysis, Discourse, and Decision

Ed. by Corinne Schelling, and John Voss

Summary written by Conflict Research Consortium Staff

Citation: When Values Conflict: Essays on Environmental Analysis, Discourse, and Decision. Laurence Tribe, Corinne Schelling, and John Voss, eds. Cambridge, MA: Ballinger Publishing Co., 1976, 178 pp.

When Values Conflict: Essays on Environmental Analysis, Discourse, and Decision is a collection of essays each of which addresses the issue of value conflicts in environmental disputes. These authors discuss the need to integrate such "fragile" values as beauty and naturalness with "hard" values such as economic efficiency in the decision making process.

When Values Conflict: Essays on Environmental Analysis, Discourse, and Decision will be of interest to those who seek to include environmentalist values in public policy debates. This work is comprised of seven essays. In the first chapter, Robert Socolow discusses obstacles to the integration of environmental values into natural resource policy. Technical studies often fail to resolve conflicts, because such conflict rest of the parties' very different goals and values. Nonetheless, agreement on the technical analysis may serve as a platform from which to more clearly articulate value differences.

Irene Thomson draws on the case of the Tocks Island Dam controversy to explore environmental decision making processes. She describes the impact the various party's interests and values have on their analyses, and argues that the fragmentation of responsibility among institutional actors contributes to the production of inadequate analyses.

Tribe's essay suggests that a natural environment has intrinsic value, a value that cannot be reduced to human interests. This recognition may serve as the first step in developing an environmental ethic.

Charles Frankel explores the idea that nature has rights. He first explores the meaning of nature, by contrast to the supernatural, technological and cultural. He suggests that appeals to nature's rights serves as an appeal for "institutional protection against being carried away by temporary enthusisms."

In Chapter Five, Harvey Brooks describes three main functions which analysis serves in the environmental decision-making process: they ground conclusions in neutral, generally accepted principles, they seperate means from ends, and they legitimate the final policy decision. If environmental values such as beauty, naturalness and uniquness are to be incorporated into systems analysis, they must do so in such a way as to preserve the basic function of analysis.

Henry Rowen discusses the use of policy analysis as an aid to making environmental decisions. He describes the characterisics of a good analysis, and argues that good analysis can help clarify the issues, and assist in "the design and invention of objectives and alternatives." Rowen concludes by suggesting ways of improving the field of policy analysis.

Robert Dorfman provides the Afterword for this collection. This essay distinguishes bewteen value and price, and explores the import of this distinction for cost-benefit analysis. The author concludes that there can be no "formula for measuring a projects contribution to humane values." Environmental decisions will always require the use of human judgement and wisdom.

When Values Conflict: Essays on Environmental Analysis, Discourse, and Decision offers a series of thoughtful essays on the nature and weight of environmentalist values. The essays range from a philosophic investigation of natural value to a more concrete evaluation of the elements of good policy analysis.