Kysar, Jasanoff, Sinden, and Adler on Kysar’s “Regulating from nowhere”

Doug Kysar’s book, Regulating from nowhere: environmental law and the search for objectivity, is one of the best I’ve ever read on the topic. It goes into ontological and ethical issues in law – a very good book.

Here is a very interesting talk on it, and a wide ranging set of issues in environmental policy with Kysar, moderated by Sheila Jasanoff, and discussed by Amy Sinden and Jonathan Adler


  1. “Law” doesn’t have transformative potential/power apart from what people do, or don’t do, and in our very pluralistic society this will continue to be “tinkering” unless we move to a less representative (in terms of peoples’ actual/self-identified interests) system, how is this move of his not just another form of technocratic (philosopher-kings) rule?

    • ps, and what is an “integrated political community”, where (when) would I find such a thing let alone base a system of Law on it?

    • In the book, his move away from technocratic (philosopher-kings) rule is driven by an approach to and appreciation of ‘the other’ he works out from Agamben and Derrida. It was my only criticism of the book (I reviewed it for Environmental Values when it came out) that these elements were at times overshadowed by his critiques of objectivist policy systems. I think your criticism might highlight the tension that critique – if treated apart from what people do – carries this risk of technocratic rule. I think Kysar’s response would be that he is trying to change what lawyers and policy makers do, in part, by undermining the bases they claim for doing it. I have no idea what an “integrated political community” is.

      • Adler actually raises my William Jamesish point about there being many different and often competing valuings/interests at play (this somehow escapes SJ in her moderating efforts) and as far as I know there is nothing in Derrida (not up on much Agamben) that really gets to the nuts&bolts (and dolts) of representative-democracies like the US has, and to the essential point of “undermining” (or even consciousness-raising) how (when/where) does this actually work in the world of flesh and blood people (with all of their cognitive-biases) or is this just more building castles on clouds?

  2. Yeah, I wouldn’t go off SJ’s reading or moderating…

    The heart of the Derridian point Kysar makes has to do with the way we negotiate the other, the Agamben point has to do with the anthropological machine we kickstart when we make claims about others (A’s is a more generic argument in some respects). Anyhow, these are Kysar’s moves to unsettle the social pretenses of environmental law – to disrupt its particular heuristics.

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