The integration of science, public opinion, and democracy: John Dewey’s and Heather Douglas’ contributions to contemporary discussion

Authors

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.5007/1808-1711.2021.e80238

Keywords:

Scientific inquiry, Values, Public, Democracy, Pragmatism

Abstract

Within the debate on the value-free science ideal, the relation between scientific inquiries and citizenry has been largely considered. According to Heather Douglas, given that under certain circumstances moral and social values play a legitimate role in science, two crucial questions are what and whose values should they be. Douglas presents an analytic-deliberative model to include and promote public participation in science and claims that such a model transcends the debates over which democratic ideal should we pursue. However, considering the complexities of the very idea of democracy as well as the different ways to support the inclusion of the public into science, some extra analysis is needed. The purpose of this article is to offer a theoretical framework to Douglas’ proposal by referring to John Dewey´s ideas about inquiry, public opinion, and democracy. Following Dewey, it is pointed out that at a normative level scientific inquiry as a solving-problem practice and democracy as conjoint communicated experience shapes each other by means of a scientifically informed public opinion. To conclude, it is claimed that Deweyan ideas offer coherent and solid philosophical grounds to Douglas’ proposal. In addition, the relevance of pragmatism for contemporary discussions on science, values and politics is highlighted.

Author Biography

Livio Mattarollo, Universidad Nacional de La Plata / Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones científicas y Técnicas

Licenciado, Profesor y Doctor en Filosofía por la Universidad Nacional de La Plata. Sus áreas de interés son la filosofía del conocimiento, la filosofía política y la filosofía de las ciencias. Es becario del Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas con lugar de trabajo en el Centro de Investigaciones en Filosofía del Instituto de Investigaciones en Humanidades y Ciencias Sociales (UNLP). Actualmente se desempeña como docente en la cátedra de Lógica de la Facultad de Psicología y en el Colegio Nacional Rafael Hernández (ambos de la UNLP), al tiempo que es miembro del Grupo de Estudios Pragmatistas.

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Published

2021-11-23

Issue

Section

Special Issue: Science and Values