Democracy, Public Policy, and Lay Assessments of Scientific Testimony

Episteme 8 (2):144-164 (2011)
Responsible public policy making in a technological society must rely on complex scientific reasoning. Given that ordinary citizens cannot directly assess such reasoning, does this call the democratic legitimacy of technical public policies in question? It does not, provided citizens can make reliable second-order assessments of the consensus of trustworthy scientific experts. I develop criteria for lay assessment of scientific testimony and demonstrate, in the case of claims about anthropogenic global warming, that applying such criteria is easy for anyone of ordinary education with access to the Web. However, surveys show a gap between the scientific consensus and public opinion on global warming in the U.S. I explore some causes of this gap and argue that democratic reforms of our culture of political discourse may be able to address it.
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DOI 10.3366/epi.2011.0013
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References found in this work BETA
Testimony: A Philosophical Study.C. A. J. Coady - 1992 - Oxford University Press.
The Division of Cognitive Labor.Philip Kitcher - 1990 - Journal of Philosophy 87 (1):5-22.

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Values in Science: The Case of Scientific Collaboration.Kristina Rolin - 2015 - Philosophy of Science 82 (2):157-177.
Moral Trust & Scientific Collaboration.Karen Frost-Arnold - 2013 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 44 (3):301-310.

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