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The Policy Test
Five Parameters for Evaluating Public Policy

Phil Hutchinson

£12.99 | $20.00
ISBN 9781911116196
£12.99 | $20.00
ISBN 9781911116202
192 pages | 216 x 138mm | December 2018


On what basis do we make policy decisions? And how should we assess the ones that have been made?

In The Policy Test, philosopher Phil Hutchinson argues that we need to move beyond mere evidence-based politics to appraise policy within a much wider evaluative framework, one that encourages a much deeper reflection of the issues. He proposes five fundamental parameters by means of which all public policy positions ought to be assessed: precaution, evidence, political economy, asymmetry and framing.

Twelve policy areas of current interest are considered – from GM foods to antibiotics – and each are evaluated in turn using the five parameters. Has the precautionary principle been invoked? What counts as evidence? What are the likely political-economic consequences? Who stands to benefit or suffer? And has the right question been asked? In so doing, Hutchinson is able to offer new insights into the policies themselves, a greater clarity of the issues involved, and a new set of tools that can be used by us all, whether of a reformist or conservative persuasion, for advocating or critiquing policy.


1. Introduction
2. Genetically modified food
3. Nuclear power
4. Large-scale rewilding
5. Healthcare funding
6. Sexual healthcare
7. Antibiotics
8. Living wage/citizens income
9. Wealth and income redistribution
10. Workplace rights
11. Votes for teenagers
12. Political campaigning
13. Direct democracy
14. Conclusion

Author Information

Phil Hutchinson is Senior Lecturer in Philosophy at Manchester Metropolitan University. He is the author of Shame and Philosophy (2008).

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