Environmental problem solving needs science but also inevitably requires subjective judgment. Science can help in dealing with subjectivity, because scientists have long experience developing institutions and practices to address the subjective and value-laden choices that are essential to scientific progress. Democracy has also developed approaches to the problem. The underlying principles can be applied to environmental policymaking. This article explores these issues in the context of decisions about environmental risks, drawing on the work of the National Research Council and other sources. It suggests some guidelines for risk deliberation—including broad-based participation, commitment to scientific quality, explicit attention to values, transparency of deliberative processes, and rules for closure and reconsideration—and recommends that an experimental approach be employed to learn how best to use deliberative methods.
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Vol. 55 • No. 11