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Governing Complex SystemsSocial Capital for the Anthropocene$
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Oran R. Young

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780262035934

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262035934.001.0001

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Principled Governance

Principled Governance

(p.145) 6 Principled Governance
Governing Complex Systems

Oran R. Young

The MIT Press

Another governance strategy features the development of principles and the coalescence of sets of principles into ethical systems (e.g. medical ethics, legal ethics). Principles provide normative guidance meant to be applied thoughtfully to the complexities of specific situations rather than to be treated as fixed prescriptions to be complied with regardless of the circumstances at hand. A series of international conferences, starting with the 1972 Stockholm Conference on the Human Environment and running through the 2012 UN Conference on Environment and Development, have contributed to the development of a system of international environmental ethics. Prominent elements of this system include the polluter pays principle, the precautionary principle, and the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities. Principled governance is not meant to replace rule-making as the dominant approach to governance in largescale settings. But it has attractions as an approach to governance in complex systems where there is a compelling need to respond nimbly or agilely to changes that are nonlinear, often abrupt, and frequently irreversible.

Keywords:   environmental ethics, ethical systems, normative guidance, principles, situational ethics

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