Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2015

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Political Science

First Advisor

Steve Vanderheiden

Second Advisor

Michaele Ferguson

Third Advisor

Horst Mewes

Fourth Advisor

Roger Pielke, Jr.

Fifth Advisor

David Mapel


The formation and implementation of effective environmental policies by Western liberal democracies are frequently hindered by disagreement over the appropriate role of scientific knowledge. In my dissertation, I argue this obstruction is resolved by recognizing the legitimate authority of science in environmental policy-making. Drawing on David Estlund’s epistemic proceduralist theory of democracy, I demonstrate the compatibility of the authority of scientific knowledge claims about the cause and effect relationships of the biophysical world in environmental policy-making with our normative expectations for the justifications of democratic governance. After defending this approach to understanding the science-policy interface, I demonstrate the feasibility of my theory and its expected impacts through detailed application to the case of climate policy. Specifically, I argue that the authority of science that I defend will increase the effectiveness of policies at achieving desired ends, while avoiding the difficulties presented by the politicization of scientific explanations.