What Role Should Science Play in Public Policy?
Scientific studies and data get invoked all the time in debates about policy, especially when it comes to matters of environmental policy. But why should those who prefer a cleaner environment (or on the flip side, those who prefer more industry and the benefits it brings) have to justify their preferences with scientific evidence?
What makes environmental policy conflicts so intractable? Why is “science” invoked by both sides of the political spectrum in policy conflicts?
Peter Van Doren returns to the podcast to talk about the thesis of his 2003 Regulation article “Letting Environmentalists’ Preferences Count.” We also discuss property rights and Coase’s theorem as it would apply to these types of disputes.
Show Notes and Further Reading
Peter Van Doren’s article “Letting Environmentalists’ Preferences Count.”
Peter Van Doren’s other Free Thoughts episodes are a great primer on how to think like an economist when approaching policy questions: “Regulations Gone Wrong,” “When Markets Fail,” “An Introduction to Public Choice,” and “The Internet Doesn’t Need to Be Saved.”
Van Doren mentions W. Kip Viscusi’s work on the economics of risk and the value of a human life. Here’s a short paper he wrote on the topic in 2005 called “The Value of Life.”