Science in Democracy: Expertise, Institutions, and Representation (MIT Press)

Science in Democracy: Expertise, Institutions, and Representation
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Indeed, if one looks at current debates in environmental policy—for example, about climate change, geoengineering, multiple chemical sensitivity, or endangered species—disputes often center on the credibility of particular spokespersons rather than the reliability of their claims.

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In this respect, a core question of democracy—how good are our representatives—has infiltrated science. There is a substantial literature on the quality and reliability of science as it relates to policy and the public good. It covers such topics as technical controversies, expert advice, peer review, regulatory standard setting, the treatment of uncertainty, and the politics of technology. Though not couched as political theory, this literature has made enormous contributions to our thinking about public participation and good decision making. In effect, these works theorize scientific and democratic representation with a richness and immediacy that one cannot find in the great political thinkers of the past.

Apart from his chapter on Latour, whose treatment of democracy lacks much empirical support, Brown essentially ignores this growing body of work. One wishes he had construed his project ambitiously enough to bring this literature into conversation with the giants of classical political theory who colonize his imagination. As it is, he has laid a cornerstone for a book that remains to be written, and that may in time occupy the same shelf as Machiavelli, Hobbes, Rousseau, and Dewey.

National Center for Biotechnology Information , U. Journal List Environ Health Perspect v. Reviewed by Sheila Jasanoff. She has authored more than works on the role of science and technology in the law, politics, and public policy of modern democracies, with particular focus on expertise, evidence, and public reasoning.

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In Science in Democracy, Mark Brown draws on science and technology studies, Political representation requires scientific expertise, and scientific institutions. Science in Democracy: Expertise, Institutions, and Representation (The MIT Press) [Mark B. Brown] on *FREE* shipping on qualifying offers.

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Write a product review. Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon. Brown shares the "good, bad and ugly" about science in America today particularly involving policy making and political decisions and manipulations of the public by vested interests. Clear, thorough, insightful work by Brown. Your recently viewed items and featured recommendations. View or edit your browsing history.

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Boyle presents modern science as both a public form of knowledge and as the realm of a special class of experts, setting the stage for both the liberal-rationalist separation of experts from publics and also for a more participatory form of science. The alternative that Brown presents is nuanced.

He avoids the naive suggestion that what we need is a return to value-free science, purified of politics, and he doesn't present another vague call for more public participation in science and science advising. Nor does Brown give in to the cynical claims that have sometimes tempted the science studies community: Brown's view that science can be, and sometimes should become, political does not allow for simple dichotomies between social and cognitive, political and epistemological.

Nor does Brown set out an idealized or idealistic account of the politics of science. Brown grapples not only with the complex values that are required by democratic representation; he also looks at how various institutions can and do embody those values, and how we might do better.

The problems with the book, for this reviewer, come largely in the form of missed connections rather than flaws in what is presented.

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I would have liked to see Brown thoroughly engage with philosophers of science who have recently done exciting work on this issue. The intersection of science and politics was a central issue at the inception of philosophy of science in the early twentieth century; for many decades mid-century it languished. In recent years, there has been a dramatic increase in major philosophers considering such issues. Brown occasionally footnotes such thinkers as Helen Longino, Philip Kitcher, and Heather Douglas, but there is no sustained engagement with their approaches.

The second concern I have, which space prevents me from developing at length, is that while Brown rightly highlights important asymmetries between science and politics, he fails to explore the possibility of a deeper unity between the two. This is particularly surprising given how important the work of John Dewey and Bruno Latour are to his account.

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While rightly dismissing some of Latour's more simplistic claims about the identity of science and politics, Brown doesn't discuss the more interesting unifications Dewey and Latour draw. Despite these missed connections, Science in Democracy is an important contribution to its eponymous subject-matter, currently a central inquiry by philosophers of science, scholars of science and technology studies, policy experts, and scientists themselves.

Brown brings a much-needed and heretofore underdeveloped component to this inquiry, a sophisticated account of political theory. Brown's book is clearly a must-read for those engaged in this issue. Have to get it done soon. Feb 27, Michael Burnam-Fink rated it it was amazing Shelves: Brown traces the complicated co-evolution of science and democracy, and the continued conflict between expert advice and popular rule from Machiavelli through Hobbes and Rousseau, the Progressive Movement, Bruno Latour, and to the modern structure of over 35, federal science advisors.

Brown thesis is opposed to those who want scientists to retreat politically to the role of "an honest broker. In this environment, where scientific knowledge is so privileged, political actors will perforce learn ways to counter science, by introducing fake "controversies" or attacking the personal credibility of scientists.

I believe that we today face major collective challenges, about climate change, peak oil, new diseases, and a host of other issues, and that we cannot simply randomly walk into the future and survive. Expertise will be a vital part of of our future, and if experts are to be credible, they must move out of the marbled halls of power, and appeal directly to the people. Despite it's heavy topic, Science in Democracy is written in a clear and minimally jargon filled style. This is a book that everybody should read. Nick Geiser rated it really liked it Aug 03, Kevin Fodness rated it really liked it Feb 05, Matt rated it really liked it Jan 24, Antonio Gomes da Costa rated it really liked it Jan 05, Abe Tidwell rated it liked it Mar 21, Roxana rated it it was amazing Jun 29, Nick Verkade rated it liked it Oct 26, Ryan rated it really liked it May 30, Ramjit rated it it was amazing Nov 07,