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SAAP Annual Meeting 2018

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Building Bridges between Environmental Pragmatism and Social-Ecological Systems Science

Leading theorists in social-ecological systems science echo a mantra from environmental management that “resource management is people management.” This paper investigates the scientific practices characteristic of a science of “people management,” arguing that non-epistemic, social values play crucial roles in how social-ecological systems scientists explain resilience by citing social causes. Drawing on Bryan G. Norton’s account of adaptive management (2005, 2015), I argue that such explanations of resilience should pursue the legitimacy and integration of facts and values. Integrating facts and values in explanations of social-ecological resilience requires a vocabulary that allows communities to describe the environmental consequences of social practices and evaluate the moral and ethical significance of those social practices. Here I want to critique features of both environmental pragmatism and social-ecological systems science that impede the integration of facts and values; once these features are corrected, more constructive work can proceed.

Zachary Piso
Michigan State University
United States


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