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Environmental Philosophy

Volume 2, Issue 1, Spring 2005

Ellen M. Maccarone
Pages 44-53

The Ethics of Advocacy
Scientists and Environmental Policy

A current issue in environmental ethics concerns the role of scientists as advocates for environmental policy. Some have argued that scientists should not be permitted to be policy advocates. I will argue that it is morally permissible for scientists to be advocates for environmental policies for four reasons. First, since scientists are also citizens it is improper to deny them the opportunity to advocate for certain policies. Second, scientists possess some expertise in these areas should be sought out to advocate for these positions precisely because they are the ones with the knowledge, understanding and access to objective studies relating to policy issues. Third, I will argue that while objectivity is required for research, advocacy for policy issues does not entail the failure of objectivity. Last, scientists advocating for environmental policy meets the ethical requirements for advocacy generally offered by Robert Audi. These give us good reason to think it is morally permissible for scientists to act as advocates for environmental policy.

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