Policy decisions on shale gas development ('fracking'): The insufficiency of science and necessity of moral thought

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Abstract

A constant refrain in both public discourse and academic research on shale gas development has been the necessity for 'sound science' to govern policy decisions. Rare, however, is the recommendation that effective policy on this topic also include 'sound moral thought'. I argue that: (1) philosophy (particularly moral thought and ethical reasoning) and science must work in tandem for making good policy decisions related to shale gas development, and (2) this realisation is essential for policy-makers, journalists, researchers, educators and the public. By examining the range of normative claims offered within academic and public discourse, the variation in claims across contexts and the degree to which the normative arguments are well-supported, I illustrate the important role increased attention to moral thought could play in forwarding policy construction on shale gas development. Finally, I offer recommendations for how policy-makers, journalists, researchers and educators can more actively acknowledge the importance of both science and moral thought in policy-making related to shale gas development.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)511-534
Number of pages24
JournalEnvironmental Values
Volume24
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2015

Keywords

  • hydraulic fracturing
  • cryptonormativism
  • energy policy
  • shale gas

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