Diverse knowledges and competing interests: An essay on socio-technical problem-solving

Science and Engineering Ethics 8 (1):83-98 (2002)
Abstract
Solving complex socio-technical problems, this paper claims, involves diverse knowledges (cognitive diversity), competing interests (social diversity), and pragmatism. To explain this view, this paper first explores two different cases: Canadian pulp and paper mill pollution and siting nuclear reactors in seismically sensitive areas of California. Solving such socio-technically complex problems involves cognitive diversity as well as social diversity and pragmatism. Cognitive diversity requires one to not only recognize relevant knowledges but also to assess their validity. Finally, it is suggested, integrating the resultant set of diverse relevant and valid knowledges determines the parameters of the solution space for the problem.
Keywords problem-solving  knowledge  expertise  diverse interests  engineering  risk  sociotechnical  pragmatism  pluralism  stakeholders  nuclear reactors  pollution  organochlorines  paper mills  NRC  ethical  complexity
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