Solutions considered: Realist versus idealist tension in disguise
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CitationKüçükural, Ö., Üzelgün, M. A. (2018). Solutions considered: Realist versus idealist tension in disguise. 25th International Association People Environment Studies (IAPS), 8-13 July 2018, Rome, Italy.
Environment more specifically “climate” became the subject of politics and the target of public policy. Problem framing and solution suggestions are subject to continuing dispute between people who resort to sharply different worldviews (Dryzek, 2013). Even actors who agree on the problem seem unable to converge on problem definition and solution. In this paper, we will present a discourse analysis of practical argumentation of business actors. We interviewed 56 managers of the firms that are forerunners of transition to low carbon economy. The data was collected in Turkey and Portugal in a joint project funded by TUBITAK (Turkey) and FCT (Portugal) and is titled “Ecological reasoning and decision making in innovation-oriented industry sectors at the periphery of Europe: reconciling divergent values and interests”. We will examine our interlocutors’ practical argumentation on proposed solutions to environmental degradation in the current market of ideas. As a conversation starter, we asked our interlocutors to evaluate the viability of the market-based instruments and command-and-control strategies in the fight against environment crisis. We found out that two pillars of ideas stand out in our in-depth interviews. Our interlocutors tend to differentiate us as environment friends, market skeptics and them as environment foes, the center, monopolies, dominant actors in the market. Secondly, age old realist versus idealist tension appears in our discussions. The paper will scrutinize the connotations of terms like realist, rational, decent, viable, crazy, stupid, hippie, radical, romantic, idealist that pop out during our solution conversations. We scrutinize the motivations behind actors preferences that some express to undertake against their immediate economic interests. In the paper we will pay special attention to Eco-pragmatist discourse which appeals to “real world”, “today’s world requirements”, “existing circumstances”, “market/political necessities”, “abiding by the rules”, “existing system”, “economic priorities” in the way this discourse frame solution proposals. It sees the current set of available alternatives as the only decent and viable solution and rejects thinking otherwise. For this discourse, there is hardly any “rational” response outside the market-based solutions. Brandom (1989) argues that doxastic premises provide reasons for practical conclusions. He shows how different norms correspond to different patterns of practical reasoning and inform preferences. In our interviews, we observed that Eco-pragmatism informs practical reasoning on solution suggestions on the environment, however despite its hegemonic stance among business actors eco-pragmatism is not the only discourse we came across in our interviews in Turkey and Portugal.