Modern water ethics: implications for shared governance

Received the proofs of a forthcoming article in Environmental Values. It was co-authored with Dan Shrubsole and should be out in the August issue. Here is the abstract:

“It has been suggested that water and social values were divorced in modernity. This paper argues otherwise. First, it demonstrates the historical link between ethics and politics using the case of American water governance. It engages theories regarding state-centric water planning under ‘high modernism’ and the claim that water was seen as a neutral resource that could be objectively governed. By developing an alternate view from the writings of early American water leaders, J.W. Powell and W.J. McGee, the paper offers a way to understand the project of state-centered governance without the claim that water falls to the latter half of a society/nature dualism. Second, the paper reviews how the emerging ‘water ethics’ discourse helps organize both the ethical and legal norms at play within contemporary political shifts towards decentralized governance. The review identifies how McGee’s early influence may warrant more attention, both in terms of water governance and environmental ethics. The paper concludes by arguing that, given the arguments presented, success in decentralizing water governance turns not only on political considerations, but also on fairly ordering normative claims as part of fostering and extending the reach of coordinated water governance.”

 

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