9-11 Sep 2015 Paris (France)
Friday 11
All
(Chair: John Ryder)
› 11:30 - 12:15 (45min)
› ENS Salle 5
A pragmatist perspective on the politicisation of science and technology
Alain Bovet  1@  
1 : ETH Zurich  (ETHz)

In the last decade, a number of Science and Technology Studies (STS) have claimed to contribute to, or at least be inspired by, a pragmatist perspective (Brown 2009, Keulartz et al. 2004, Latour 2007, Marres 2007). On the one hand, they rightly emphasized the relation that John Dewey established between an issue and a political public. Rather than a stable character of the democratic play, the public is “sparked into being” by a particular issue. On the other hand, these scholars neglected the relationship between Dewey's take on the political public and the rest of his thought, most notably his pragmatist philosophy of experience and learning, summed up in Logic: the Theory of Inquiry. For Dewey, the political public is the correlate of a social inquiry, which should be free (based on the model of scientific inquiry) and the results of which should be widely communicated (Zask 1999, Quéré 2002, Bovet 2006).

Dewey's theory of inquiry may offer an alternative to both sides of the debate opposing the “third wave of STS” (Collins and Evans 2002, 2007) and the “upstream engagement” tenors (Jasanoff 2003, Wynne 2003). Dewey's approach focuses on experience as a transaction between an organism and an environment which results in a modification of both. As such, it opposes both the objectivist trend of the former and the relativist inclination of the latter (Durant 2011). From this discussion, the conclusion will sketch the main lines of a tempered pragmatism for STS, grounded on the process of politicisation through the conduct of social inquiries.

 

References

Bovet Alain (2006) « La constitution du public dans la démocratie semi-directe: le cas de l'initiative populaire « pour une procréation respectant la dignité humaine » », Mots. Les langages du politique 81, 35-48

Brown Mark B. (2009) Science in democracy. Expertise, institutions and representation (Cambridge MA: MIT Press)

Collins H and Evans R (2002) “The third wave of science studies: Studies of expertise and experi­ence”. Social Studies of Science 32(2): 235–296.

Collins H and Evans R (2007) Rethinking Expertise. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Dewey, John (1991 [1927]) The Public and Its Problems (Athens, OH: Swallow Press/Ohio University Press).

Marres, Noortje (2007) ‘The Issues Deserve More Credit: Pragmatist Contributions to the Study of Public Involvement in Controversy', Social Studies of Science 37(5): 759–780

Jasanoff S (2003) “Breaking the waves in science studies”. Social Studies of Science 33(3): 389–400.

Keulartz Jozef, Schermer Maartje, Korthals Michiel, Swierstra Tsjalling (2004) “Ethics in Technological Culture: A Programmatic Proposal for a Pragmatist Approach”, Science, Technology and Human Values 29 (1): 3-29

Latour, Bruno (2007) ‘Turning Around Politics: A Note on Gerard De Vries's Paper', Social Studies of Science 37(5): 811–20.

Quéré Louis (2002) « La structure de l'expérience publique d'un point de vue pragmatiste » in D. Cefaï, I. Joseph (dir.), L'héritage du pragmatisme: conflits d'urbanité et épreuves de civisme, La Tour d'Aigues, Editions de l'Aube, 131-160

Wynne B (2003) “Seasick on the third wave: Subverting the hegemony of propositionalism”. Social Studies of Science 33(3): 401–417.

Zask Joëlle (1999) L'opinion publique et son double. Livre II: John Dewey, philosophe du public, Paris, L'Harmattan


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