Book Review: Kysar’s Regulating From Nowhere

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3 Responses

  1. A.J. Sutter says:

    Thanks for this review — the book went into my shopping cart immediately. I’m curious, does Kysar touch on the subject of the precautionary principle’s treatment internationally? It’s troubling to see that in WTO jurisprudence and in some academic circles, the PP is either subordinated to the logic of CBA, or else CBA is considered to be an implementation of the principle. See, e.g., the WTO interim panel decision (2006) on genetically modified organisms (burden of proof under the PP is to show that something is dangerous before regulating it — similar in effect to CBA à la Sunstein); and P. Ewald & al., Le Principe de précaution (2001).

  2. I have a question for both Jamie and A.J.: Have either of you read mary O’Brien’s Making Better Environmental Decisions: An Alternative to Risk Assessment (MIT Press, 2000)? It seems she defends something like (if not) the precautionary principle under the rubriic of “alternatives assessment.” One attractive feature of her proposal is that it helps make publicly explicit the political and value choices that, as she explains (and as was pointed out earlier in pioneering work by Kristin Shrader-Frechette), are deliberately or inadvertently buried in the CBAs used in environmental decision-making.

    For Jamie: Does Kysar cite Elizabeth Anderson’s invaluable work, Value in Ethics and Economics (1993)?

    Of course it’s not so much value monism per se that is the problem but the nature of the value itself (in this case, economic value, conventionally and crudely understood in the manner of neo-classical economics) which, it is assumed or argued, is instrumental in the realization of other (i.e., a plurality of) values. The problem is that there is a perceived need for a common denominator, a common metric used to assess the comparative worth of these other values and this is at least arguable if not implausible or impossible (at least in the terms of not a few worldviews). Our sundry valuations cannot be reduced to those regnant in today’s marketplace. There are some goods I (we) may not be willing to put a price on….

  3. Jamison Colburn says:

    To Patrick: O’Brien’s book had escaped me till now; I’ll certainly take a look, thanks! And while I can’t recall any citation of Anderson’s book in Regulating From Nowhere (there was a great quote from a piece Tribe did in 1971 on “policy analysis” that was a nice reminder of his few writings on the subject back then), I’d have to say that the expressivism defended by her in that and later work bears clear similarities to Kysar’s expressivist defense of the PP.

    To A.J.: The book talks briefly about the PP abroad, but it is mostly aimed at a sort of internal defense. Many thanks for your pointer, too. I’ll check it out!

    Finally, fwiw, I have my own doubts that “value” is anything more than an essentially contested concept. It allows us to say there are different “values,” it allows us to say there are intrinsic and extrinsic values, it allows Korsgaard (at least) to say there are “final” and non-final values, and it allows us to say that some values can’t be monetized. I honestly think I agree with all of those propositions — but I’m not sure where, theoretically, that leaves me, except perhaps right back where James, Pierce, and Dewey were over a century ago — or perhaps were Audi’s recent reconstructions of Rossian intuitionism leads. Food for thought, though! Cheers, Jamie