Monday, June 9th ~ Workshop Breakout Schedules from 16:00 to 18:00
Organizer: Martin Weinel & Rob Evans
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Queen Elizabeth Suite
Organizer: Katie Plaisance
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Organizer: Erik Fisher
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Bios & Abstracts from this session
SEE: Analysing UK Open Access policymaking through the lens of SEE: the 'Finch Report' and responses to the Report
Authors: Luis Reyes-Galindo
Abstract: Government policies on scholarly publication Open Access (OA) implementation in the UK have created great controversy in academia since the Government’s full acceptance of the recommendations set out in the ‘Working Group on Expanding Access to Published Research Findings’ white paper on OA implementation (a.k.a. the ‘Finch Report’), published in early 2012. The harshest government-level response came from the House of Commons through its Select Committee on Business, Innovation and Skills, which – after a far-ranging public consultation – published a report that harshly criticized the Finch Group's policy recommendations, a year and a half after the Finch Report first appeared.
The differences in how each report was supported by ‘expert knowledge’ points to two very different models of policymaking and to two very different conceptions of how expertise is used to support policymaking processes thus leading, unsurprisingly, to two very different policy outcomes. My presentation will focus on tracing how each of these two policymaking cases can be linked to current STS debates on policymaking and expertise, on the advantages and disadvantages of either choice of policymaking model, and will conclude with an analysis of how this case can be used to illustrate both the usefulness but also the possible limitations of the SEE approach.
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SEE: The Epistemic-Politico Authority of Expertise – Boundary Shifts and their Democratic Implications
Authors: Arlena Jung , Social Science Research Centre Berlin
Abstract: In my presentation I would like to discuss the implications of the increasing importance of research fields, which are programmatically oriented to producing knowledge that is not only scientifically valid but also has an impact on policy. A constitutive characteristic of these research fields is that their methodological and programmatic orientation is continually re-negotiated and re-defined in reaction to both scientific and political responses. In my presentation I would analyse the construction of their epistemic-politico authority and its organisational stabilisation and re-definition in three research fields that are paradigmatic for this development: behavioural economics, bibliometrics and evaluation research. The assumption underlying my interest in these research fields is that the emergence of this type of research is a result of the increasing complexity and reflexivity of the science-policy interface. Like interactional expertise and boundary organisations they fulfil a coordination function. They are, however, also a means of dealing with a legitimacy crisis. The promise of these research fields is a more rational policy process in which the hard facts of scientific evidence will increase both the effectiveness and efficiency of the policy making process.
The increasing importance of these types of research areas raises important questions concerning both their democratic implications and their implications for the boundaries of science. What they sell is a technocratic vision of the science-policy interface. They can, however, only gain epistemic-politico authority if they succeed in presenting themselves as a knowledge form reconciling the expectation of a not only rational but also representative and participatory decision making process. What discursive mechanisms are used to achieve this? The expertise these research field produce is constructed as a governance instrument that allows policy-makers to steer both individual behaviour and organisations more effectively and efficiently. Concepts such as ‘empowerment’ are used as discursive devices to present this type of expertise as a knowledge form that rather than restricting the autonomy of policy-makers and stakeholder provides them with the tools and incentives they need for realising their own interests and goals.
The construction of political relevance goes hand in hand with the dropping of modalities essential to scientific norms of both conducting research and presenting research findings. This is of course by no means idiosyncratic to these types of research fields. As expressed in the term ‘distance lends enchantment’ it is a constitutive element of re-contextualisation and legitimization. At the same time the epistemic authority of these fields is dependent on the attestation of scientific validity by the relevant scientific communities. This raises the question of the implications for the boundaries of science. To what extent does the scientific community succeed in functioning as ‘watch dogs’ for the implementation of scientific validity criteria? To what extent do political expectations end up gaining the upper hand, undermining or even changing scientific norms and standards? Essential to understanding the implications of the increasing importance of these research fields for the boundaries of science is, I claim, analysing not only the construction of epistemic-politico authority but also their stabilisation and re-negotiation in the process of the organisational institutionalisation the respective research fields. Only when we analyse the intertwinement of discursive mechanisms of constructing epistemic-politico authority with institutional dependencies can we understand both the democratic implications of this type of expertise and its implications for the boundaries of science.
Bio: I am currently working in the research project "Studying the Changing Orders of Political Expertise". A current focus of my my research is the discursive mechanisms used to construct epistemic-politico authority in the fields of behavioural economics, benchmarking and evaluative bibliometrics.My recent publications include "Embedded expertise: a conceptual framework for reconstructing knowledge orders, their transformation and local specificities", in Innovation: The European Journal of Social Science Research with Rebecca-Lea Korinek and Holger Straßheim, (2014); "Cultures of expertise – the rise of behavioural economics, mit Holger Straßheim und Rebecca Korinek", with Holger Straßheim and Rebecca-Lea Korinek In: Ariane Berthoin Antal, Michael Hutter und David Stark (Hg.): Valorizing Dissonance: Cultural Perspectives on Newness. Oxford: Oxford University Press (forthcoming); „Medialization and Credibility: Paradoxical Effect or (Re)-Stabilization of Boundaries? Epidemiology and Stem Cell Research in the Press“. In: Franzen, Martina/Rödder, Simone/Weingart, Peter (Hg.): The Sciences’ Media Connection – Public Communication and its Repercussions (Sociology of the Sciences Yearbook 28). Dordrecht: Springer, S.107–130, (2012).
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SRPoiSE: Questioning the Neutrality of Science for Policy
Authors: Hugh Lacey, Dan Hicks and Matt Brown, UT Dallas
Abstract: It has become increasingly common for philosophers of science to insist that science is not value-‐free, i.e., that non-‐epistemic (contextual, social) values play a major role in scientific inquiry that cannot be shunted into an “external” feature of science. These philosophers are by and large interested in the social presumptions and consequences of science, particularly when that science is an input into policy. The three papers in this symposium all look at the role of science in policy in light of the role of values in science.
A common presupposition about science in policy — not just among philosophers of science, but also among scientists, policymakers, and the public — is that the objectivity of science requires that science and scientists be independent of or neutral about social values and controversial political positions. Objectivity in this sense is taken to be the ground of the authority of science and scientific experts, the integrity of science in the political process, and sound science advising. So, for example, the IPCC claims to offer assessments that are “policy-‐relevant and yet policy-‐neutral,” to refrain from advocating for particular policies.
This presupposition that neutrality grounds the objectivity and authority of science has been rendered problematic by recent philosophical arguments against the ideal of value-‐free science. Some hold that scientists cannot provide input to policy without considering benefits and risks associated with scientific uncertainties. They cannot resolve uncertainties sufficiently to provide meaningful information by considering epistemic criteria alone. Others argue that the idea of policy-‐neutral science assumes the equally problematic distinction between pure and applied science, an assumption that is directly questioned by the papers in this symposium.
Each of the three papers in this symposium questions the assumptions of value-‐ and policy-‐neutral science, and discusses alternatives to these assumptions. Rather than being neutral, or acting as advocates for privately-‐held values, scientists might instead adopt the Precautionary Principle, appeal to non-‐epistemic values, include a broader range of stakeholders, or embark on new research programs aimed at providing policy prescriptions. Paper 1 recommends that scientific input into policy deliberations be responsive to the Precautionary Principle. Paper 2 argues that rival sets of evidence require the use of non-‐neutral epistemic and non-‐epistemic values to help settle policy-‐relevant scientific controversies. Paper 3 argues that the contextualism and value-‐ladenness of scientific research requires that scientific input into policy requires the creation of new lines of interdisciplinary, policy-‐prescriptive research. Papers 1 and 2 address research and policy on genetically modified organisms, while Paper 3 focuses on climate change research and policy.
Titles and Abstracts of Papers
Paper 1: Sound scientific input into policy deliberations: The importance of the Precautionary Principle
I will be concerned with policy deliberations about the priorities for funding scientific research, and the release for practical use (and regulation) of innovations that are outcomes of scientific research; and the mutual interaction of these two issues. These policy deliberations must take into account questions about benefits, risks and alternatives, which are through and through laden with ethical and social values. But, they cannot take them into account adequately without input from the results of a wide array of scientific investigations. Generally, however, the research that generates an efficacious innovation, e.g., genetically modified organisms (GMOs), is not able to deal with issues (e.g.) of risks – GMOs are outcomes of research in molecular biology and biotechnology, which has nothing to say about the health, environmental/ecological and social dimensions of risks. I will argue that sound scientific input into these policy deliberations is inadequate, unless it includes relevant results from well-‐conducted research (within the appropriate range of scientific fields) on all the dimensions of the social implementation of an innovation. (In certain circumstances, this may have implications for what the priorities for funding of scientific research should be.) Then, I will argue that, in order to ensure that sound scientific input is provided, it is important to adopt the Precautionary Principle (a detailed version of which I will present).
Paper 2: Do GMOs Increase Crop Yields?
The aim of this presentation is not to answer the title question, but instead to show that scientific efforts to answer the title question are marked by a kind of underdetermination that is not usually examined within the science and values literature and that is not susceptible to common solutions to underdetermination.
A prominent argument for the development and use of genetically modified crops [GMOc] is that they are necessary to “feed the world.” Proponents of the technology argue that GMOc have already increased crop yields, which I call the yield claim. Opponents dispute this claim, arguing that the yield claim is false, the proponents have overstated it (there has been only a small increase), or that proponents have not supported it with adequate evidence. (As Hugh Lacey has pointed out, there is a logical gap between the yield claim and the claim that GMOc are necessary to feed the world; I mention this only in passing here.)
I focus on three scientific review essays — two supporting the increased yields claim, one challenging it, and all three frequently cited within the popular discussion of GMOc. Time permitting, I briefly discuss some methodological problems with all three studies — none is a genuine meta-‐analysis — as well their use of grey (non-‐ peer reviewed) literature and conflicts of interest. However, my main interests in this presentation are the rival sets of evidence used to support or challenge the yield claim, as well as the epistemological arguments used to support or challenge the sets of evidence.
Philosophical discussions of underdetermination often — though not always — assume that there is a unique, well-‐defined body of evidence; the problem is in the relationship between the evidence and the rival hypotheses. However, in the GMOc yield debate, proponents and opponents appeal to different, rival sets of evidence. Proponents appeal to surveys of farmers around the world, often connected to agribusiness promotional campaigns; opponents appeal to controlled field trials in “developed” countries conducted by government agencies and research universities. Furthermore, these rival sets of evidence are supported by rival epistemological criteria. Proponents argue that they are citing peer-‐reviewed literature, and might appeal to Nancy Cartwright's notion of “evidence for use” to support evidence gathered from actual farming practice. Opponents argue that “best-‐best” comparisons and rigorous controls are necessary for proper causal reasoning, and might add that government and university researchers are less burdened by conflicts of interest.
Thus, the GMOc yield debate might not be resolvable by "neutral" approaches such as taking "all" of the evidence into account or gathering "more" evidence, since what counts as evidence is itself part of the controversy. Similarly, it might not be resolvable by "neutral" epistemic values, since these are also part of the controversy. In closing I discuss a few of the contextual values at play in the controversy, and suggest that making these more explicit could improve the debate by clarifying the nature of the disagreement between opponents and proponents.
Paper 3: Policy-‐Relevant and yet Policy-‐Neutral? Tensions in the IPCC's Self-‐Understanding
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) works under the auspices of the United Nations. It describes itself as “a scientific body,” but the IPCC does not conduct or commission any scientific research; rather, it “reviews and assesses the most recent scientific, technical and socio-‐economic information produced worldwide relevant to the understanding of climate change.” Given the complexity of the phenomenon of climate change and the vast and growing body of relevant scientific literature, this is a worthy task, and the IPCC has proved its worth in its various assessment reports over the past quarter-‐century of its existence. Nonetheless, there are some serious tensions in the way the IPCC conceives of itself and its charge, particularly in the way it conceives of the foundations of its scientific authority and its relation to policy.
The IPCC describes its relation to governments and policy in the following terms:
By endorsing the IPCC reports, governments acknowledge the authority of their scientific content. The work of the organization is therefore policy-‐relevant and yet policy-‐neutral, never policy-‐prescriptive. (From the IPCC website, under the heading “Organization.)
It is clear from this very brief statement that the IPCC conceives of its scientific authority as closely tied to its policy neutrality. Rather than a particular problem for the IPCC (or a mere bit of propaganda), this statement reflects a widely held view. We will argue that this view is deeply mistaken, for at least two reasons. First, the idea of scientific authority as consisting in its objectivity, and its objectivity consisting of neutrality towards values (or policy alternatives), is an outmoded notion, sometimes called the “the ideal of value-‐free science” or “epistemic purity.” Second, the contextual nature of scientific research makes it impossible to be simultaneously policy-‐relevant and policy-‐neutral. This mistake seems to be based in the outmoded view that first context-‐free scientific knowledge is produced, then it is packaged for consumption by policy-‐makers in actual contexts of application, what is sometimes called “the linear model” of science advising.
These mistakes rely on untenable and pernicious dichotomies between fact and value, expert and partisan, basic research and application, scientific and policy inquiry. To overcome them, we must get clearer on the role of values in science, the relationships between scientific and policy inquiry, and what is required to establish some research results as relevant to some policy situation. In addition to the current research focus on modeling and understanding the dynamics of global climate, we need more social-‐scientific inquiry to clarify the human consequences of climate change, more policy-‐prescriptive inquiry to review and assess potential solutions (and monitor hypothesis put into action), and robust interdisciplinary ties between these different inquiries. To meet this need, the IPCC may need to evolve from a body that merely reviews and assesses existing research to one that conducts or commissions newly-‐needed research and advocates for policy solutions.
Bio: Matthew Brown's research focuses on the relationships between science & technology and values, politics, & culture. He comes at this topic from a background in philosophy of science, history of philosophy, science & technology studies, and cognitive science. He is particularly influenced by pragmatist and feminist perspectives in philosophy of science. He often uses ideas from the history of philosophy as tools to combat narrow mindedness and dogmatism in philosophical debate.
Matthew is currently an Assistant Professor of Philosophy and History of Ideas at the University of Texas at Dallas. He is also the Director of the Center for Values in Medicine, Science, and Technology. Matthew is affiliated with the faculties of Behavioral and Brain Sciences, Emerging Media and Communication, and Arts and Technology at UT Dallas.
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