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The Power of Words in International RelationsBirth of an Anti-Whaling Discourse$
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Charlotte Epstein

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780262050920

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: August 2013

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262050920.001.0001

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The Power of Science?

The Power of Science?

(p.117) 6 The Power of Science?
The Power of Words in International Relations

Charlotte Epstein

The MIT Press

This chapter problematizes a set of common expectations regarding science and its relationship to policy making that underpin the International Whaling Commission (IWC). It starts by questioning the epistemic community approach, which is grounded in assumptions about science’s ability to attain “the truth” about an issue, and, from there, to drive policy making disinterestedly forwards. The chapter then examines how much science was able to weigh into the policy decisions about whaling management, in each of the three phases that saw the consolidation of a science of whale management. What the history of IWC science shows is that, despite significant improvements in whale science over these three phases, to the extent that it became a model for fisheries management elsewhere, it was increasingly ignored by policy makers. The chapter thus shows that the power of science to influence policy makers is actually relatively limited, and is constrained by the particular epoch or episteme within which both the science and the policies are produced.

Keywords:   International Whaling Commission, whaling management, IWC science, epistemic community approach

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