The End of Enlightened Environmental Law? – Journal of Environmental Law – article

The End of Enlightened Environmental Law?

Brian J. Preston | Journal of Environmental Law


This article provides a new explanation for the current democratic crisis by focusing on the growing opposition of citizens to political elites. Modern democracies are basically representative democracies in the sense that citizens are represented by a governing political elite. We argue that democracies are in crisis because this political elite cannot possess the knowledge necessary to manage the complexity of the social order and implement rational choices. They fail in dealing with knowledge and thus cast doubt among citizens on the very legitimacy of democracy. This produces generalized distrust toward elites, who were thought to be able to deal with social complexity. As a result, democracy is considered to be responsible for societal problems while they actually stem from elites’ overestimation of their ability to deal with societal complexity. Related Articles Considine, Mark. 2012. “Applying Design Theory to Public Policy.” Politics & Policy 40 (4): 704‐724. Norman, Emma R., and Rafael Delfin. 2012. “Wizards under Uncertainty: Cognitive Biases, Threat Assessment, and Misjudgments in Policy Making.” Politics & Policy 40 (3): 369‐402.‐1346.2012.00356.x/abstract Raile, Eric D., Amber N. Raile, Charles T. Salmon, and Lori Ann Post. 2014. “Defining Public Will.” Politics & Policy 42 (1): 103‐130. Related Media A summary of the article will be made in French for readers of the PHEBE site (LE POInt, and on the counterpoint site (


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