What is the relevance of theory when it comes to policy-formation and management questions? Take forest management as an example. Do policy makers in forest management pick and choose from a variety of positions or do they adhere strictly to one theory about how the forest should be managed? This is in a way an empirical issue, but could be discussed in a non-empirical way as well. To analyze the issue non-empirically we could proceed in one of the following two ways: either we could hypothetically take one stance and see what follows from that (e.g., say that there is a close relation between theory and practice, how can we account for that and what would be the – theoretical as well as practical – consequences); or we could make it a normative issue (how ought this relation optimally be?). Reflecting upon questions as these, it could be interesting to know that in environmental philosophy there has recently been a strong suggestion that we should minimize the gap between theory and practice. Shifting the focus from value theoretical issues towards practical real-world problems – as these environmental pragmatists has suggested – could look progressive, but what are they sacrificing? Why do we need theory in the first place? These issues could be widely extended (e.g., think about the state of emergence which the global climate change poses and the corollary need for immediate action).
The relation between theory and practice