Participation of the Public in Science: Towards a New Kind of Scientific Practice

Human Affairs 17 (2):138-153 (2007)
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Abstract

Participation of the Public in Science: Towards a New Kind of Scientific Practice Participation of the public in science has been the object of an increasing number of social and political philosophical studies, but there is still hardly any epistemological study of the topic. While it has been objected that involvement of the public is a threat to the integrity of science, the apparent indifference of philosophers of science seems to testify to its lack of relevance to conceptions of scientific activity. I argue both that it is not a threat to science and that it is relevant to philosophy of science by showing that it constitutes a new kind of epistemic practice. Two main objections to the idea that the involvement of non-scientists, with their situated perspective and contextual values, can form an epistemic practice will be addressed: the first bears on the epistemic potentialities of the cooperation between scientist and non-scientists; the second on the possibility that this cooperation takes the form of a practice.

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Isabelle Peschard
San Francisco State University

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