Regulating from Nowhere - Kysar, Douglas A. - Yale University Press

Political Science

Regulating from Nowhere

Environmental Law and the Search for Objectivity

  • Douglas A. Kysar
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“At a time when nations seem unmotivated to address climate change and other looming catastrophes, Douglas Kysar reminds us why the questions posed by environmental law are some of the most urgent and ethically challenging in all of human governance.  Using novel theoretical insights on cost-benefit analysis, the precautionary principle, sustainable development, and environmental constitutionalism, Regulating from Nowhere offers a bold and much-needed step forward.”—James Gustave Speth, author of The Bridge at the Edge of the World: Capitalism, the Environment, and Crossing from Crisis to Sustainability and Red Sky at Morning:  America and the Crisis of the Global Environment

Drawing insight from a diverse array of sources — including moral philosophy, political theory, cognitive psychology, ecology, and science and technology studies — Douglas Kysar offers a new theoretical basis for understanding environmental law and policy. He exposes a critical flaw in the dominant policy paradigm of risk assessment and cost-benefit analysis, which asks policymakers to, in essence, “regulate from nowhere.” As Kysar shows, such an objectivist stance fails to adequately motivate ethical engagement with the most pressing and challenging aspects of environmental law and policy, which concern how we relate to future generations, foreign nations, and other forms of life. Indeed, world governments struggle to address climate change and other pressing environmental issues in large part because dominant methods of policy analysis obscure the central reasons for acting to ensure environmental sustainability. To compensate for these shortcomings, Kysar first offers a novel defense of the precautionary principle and other commonly misunderstood features of environmental law and policy. He then concludes by advocating a movement toward environmental constitutionalism in which the ability of life to flourish is always regarded as a luxury we can afford.

Douglas Kysar is Professor of Law at Yale Law School.