Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Professor V. W. Marshall
This work is a sociological case study of the disputes among expert biologists in the Mackenzie Valley Pipeline Inquiry. I argue that the disputes among experts are structured by the interest groups who sponsored expert testimony. Interest groups varied in their resources, organizational structure, interaction experiences, and basic defensive or critical argumentative stance. This variability is shown to be related to the cohesiveness of expert arguments across seven major debating points.
Open-ended interviews form the basis of most of the analysis. Since the populations are small, extensive quotations from the responses of participants are used at many points. The analysis is qualitative at many crucial points. The interviews are supplemented by an analysis of hearing transcripts, supporting material presented at the Inquiry, and published materials relating to the Inquiry.
The argument is constructed using an image of all action, including scientific reasoning, as interpretive action. Although a social product, action is considered to be a complex interpretive process. The importance of this image of action is developed in the assessment of the influence of various scientific and non-scientific issues to the opinions of scientists as experts. I treat statements by participants as part of arguments which, I suggest, are unclear as to their motivational implications.
Within this framework, I consider the importance of interest groups for the structuring of expert arguments. I argue that the major industrial proponent was able to present an extremely cohesive set of expert arguments because of a variety of factors including their greater resources, their longer time to prepare a case, and their experience of having to defend a position. In contrast, critics, with their relatively meager resources, shortage of time, and position of critic, presented a far less cohesive set of expert arguments. This lack of a parallel structure in arguments runs counter to the dominant image, in the literature, of a more clearly polarized debate in conflicts among experts.
Campbell, Brian Lewis, "Disputes Among Experts: A Sociological Case Study of the Debate Over Biology in the Mackenzie Valley Pipeline Inquiry" (1982). Open Access Dissertations and Theses. Paper 1566.