Global Governance of the Environment

Global Governance of the Environment

Environmental Principles and Change in International Law and Politics

Afshin Akhtarkhavari

This timely book examines the role of environmental principles in changing international environmental law and politics, and argues for the importance of integrating environmental principles in the global governance of the environment.

Chapter 2: Social Learning at the International Level

Afshin Akhtarkhavari

Subjects: environment, climate change, environmental law, environmental politics and policy, environmental sociology, law - academic, environmental law, public international law, regulation and governance, politics and public policy, environmental politics and policy, european politics and policy, international politics


INTRODUCTION The role of norms at the international level can be studied in a variety of ways, ranging from realist, liberal, social constructivist and post-modern approaches to ontology and epistemology. This is also complicated by the fact that there are also varying philosophical approaches to the controversies relating to ecological issues and the environment more generally.1 This rather complicated landscape of normative and philosophical differences for international relations and environmental ethics has an impact on how one studies the role and function of environmental principles. This chapter sets out in general terms the social constructivist approach that frames the discussion of social learning in this work.2 Its aim is to discuss the idea of collective or communitarian social learning in international politics and to identify how we can recognise it in a meaningful way. The terms common and collective knowledge are used in this chapter and work, using the scholarship of Wendt,3 to describe the micro and macro 1 Christopher Stone, ‘The Environment in Moral Thought’ (1988) 56 Tennessee Law Review 1; Christopher Stone, ‘Should Trees Have Standing? Revisited: How Far Will Law and Morals Reach? A Pluralist Perspective’ (1985) 59 Southern California Law Review 1; Joseph DesJardins, Environmental Ethics: An Introduction to Environmental Philosophy (4th ed, 2005). 2 It should be noted that the version of social constructivism used in this book has strong roots and correlations with what some have called mainstream American constructivism: see Ole Wæver, ‘Four Meanings of International Society: A Trans-Atlantic Dialogue’ in...

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