Is a Little Pollution Good for You?: Incorporating Societal Values in Environmental Research
Could low-level exposure to polluting chemicals be analogous to exercise -- a beneficial source of stress that strengthens the body? Some scientists studying the phenomenon of hormesis (beneficial or stimulatory effects caused by low-dose exposure to toxic substances) claim that that this may be the case. Is A Little Pollution Good For You? critically examines the current evidence for hormesis. In the process, it highlights the range of methodological and interpretive judgments involved in environmental research: choices about what questions to ask and how to study them, decisions about how to categorize and describe new information, judgments about how to interpret and evaluate ambiguous evidence, and questions about how to formulate public policy in response to debated scientific findings. The book also uncovers the ways that interest groups with deep pockets attempt to influence these scientific judgments for their benefit. Several chapters suggest ways to counter these influences and incorporate a broader array of societal values in environmental research: (1) moving beyond conflict-of-interest policies to develop new ways of safeguarding academic research from potential biases; (2) creating deliberative forums in which multiple stakeholders can discuss the judgments involved in policy-relevant research; and (3) developing ethical guidelines that can assist scientific experts in disseminating debated and controversial phenomena to the public. Kevin C. Elliott illustrates these strategies in the hormesis case, as well as in two additional case studies involving contemporary environmental research: endocrine disruption and multiple chemical sensitivity. This book should be of interest to a wide variety of readers, including scientists, philosophers, policy makers, environmental ethicists and activists, research ethicists, industry leaders, and concerned citizens.
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argue Ashford and Miller biological biomedical Bisphenol broadly based deliberation Calabrese and Baldwin Calabrese’s cancer carcinogens chapter citizens claims HG COI policies concerns Conflict of Interest Consent Principle consider contexts decisions Deliberative Democracy deliberative forums deliberative process develop dioxin disclosure disruptors disseminate dose-response curves dose-response relationships endocrine disruption endpoints Environmental epistemic ethics of expertise evaluation evidence example ExxonMobil financial COIs funding harmful hormesis phenomenon hormesis research hormetic dose-response hormetic effects human hypothesis Ibid industry influence informed consent interest groups interpretation involve Jasanoff judgments associated Krimsky literature studies low doses low-dose effects major Multiple Chemical Sensitivities Mushak Nanotechnology Nevertheless nonepistemic values particular perspectives Philosophy of Science Pielke Jr policy makers policy-relevant research pollution potential promote proposed regulatory response Risk Assessment role Saal scientific practice scientific research scientists Shrader-Frechette significant social societal values sorts strategies suggests tion toxic chemicals Toxicology University value judgments Values in Science Xenoestrogens