From economic to sustainable development: unfolding the concept of law
Title: From economic to sustainable development: unfolding the concept of law
Author: JENSEN, Hanne Birgitte
Citation: Systems research and behavioral science, 2007, 24, 5, 505-514
The paper presents an analysis of the interrelationship of law, policy and knowledge under conditions of globalization. The paper's basic premise is that the emergence of the sustainable development policy has been driven by an expanding awareness of the world as a singular and interdependent entity. The principal argument is that the policy of sustainable development is part of a wider epistemic shift, which means that the global community at large understands the world differently today than 50-60 years ago when the United Nations and the Bretton Woods-inspired institutions were established. The theory of change underlying these policies represents, therefore, a shift from the model of economic development, which builds on the idea of separation and functional specialization, to a model of sustainable development, which builds on interdependence and integration. It is suggested that the sustainable development policy provideds us with a key to develop a common theoretical framework for explaining the implications of the epistemic shift, but, giving effect to the shift will require research and co-operation between a wide range of disciplines. It is further suggested that expanding the concept of law provides a necessary condition for making the epistemic shift operational as a new paradigm in a global governance context. In conclusion, the paper proposes that the theoretical insight from policymaking provides the resources to answer the post-modern crisis of truth, which in essence is a crisis of reality, self and language. And further, that sustainable development has the potential for enabling a change equivalent to that of the Copernican revolution, which concerned man's place in the cosmos, while sustainable development concerns man's place in the biosphere. Effectuating the change will, however, require a fundamental willingness of the global scholarly community to engage with-and not merely describe, prescribe, and measure-reality and the human condition. Copyright John Wiley & Sons. Reproduced with permission. An electronic version of this article is available online at http://www.interscience.wiley.com
Subject: International law; Legal theory; Globalization; Sustainable development; Political philosophy; Cognition
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