Science And Public Reason Article Reviews Example

Type of paper: Article Review

Topic: Science, Risk, Politics, Government, Education, Knowledge, Peer, Role

Pages: 3

Words: 825

Published: 2020/12/24

Chapter 7 (Songlines of risk)

I. Risk as a social knowledge
Risk is a concept that is equally shared between policy-makers, technical experts and to some extent, illumined laymen. Issues in pesticides, GMOs, and dangerous chemical ingredients have not been pointed out without the aid of the three parties. Reports of poisonings and various health hazards in conjunction with scientific tests are necessary to label something as an environmental risk. It is then the responsibility of policy makers to accurately implement measures to prevent risk without bureaucratic mess or political biases and hidden agenda.
II. Risks are not risks without perception and knowledge
A risk is a phenomenon that does not exist when it is not perceived. If not for the death of Marie Curie, the risks of radioactivity was not fully known. There was even a time when radium solution for drinking, intravenous injection and hot compress was manufactured. The manufacturer of this 1920s medicine believed that it can relieve chronic joint and muscular pains and even high blood pressure. The risk was later discovered when human tolerance to radiation is lower than expected. Perception is the initial process and is followed by proper and impartial testing, producing knowledge that can be disseminated to the public.
III. Risks are not absolute and no method can perfectly describe it
In this present day, we are bound by scientifically proven risks in our health but most of them have not been observed in nature. Because of the nature of risk assessment in the laboratory, actual effects to humans are not well established. Human testing is not ethical and is such a full correlation of a risk agent is hard to prove. Carcinogens can behave differently in animals and humans and hence what is carcinogenic in one is not guaranteed to have the same effect to the other.

Chapter 8 (Judgment under siege: The three-body problem of expert legitimacy)

I. Politics and science
Science and technology has always been a critical part of a country’s development. Prior to the war, science and research is focused heavily on military yet 1945 saw a light with the reform of presidential adviser Vannevar Bush. Despite visions to use science for general betterment of the country, the majority of it is still related to national security. Politics is historically linked to science even prior to the turn of 21st century and will continue to be for the coming decades.
II. Science becoming less relevant in politics
Research can either be curiosity driven or application driven. The earlier form of government funded research is considered curiosity driven. This research in particular is purely theoretical and its applications are yet to be realized. Modern government funded research are application driven and contain more avenues in which the private sector can collaborate. With modern research funding however comes less focus on exploratory sciences and government are often only interested in researches that have economic returns. The Bush administration is an example of how government downplayed the role of research in nation building.
III. Role of experts in the politics
Experts are necessary in politics as they handle the ignorance and uncertainty of contemporary life. The role of experts can be summarized into three bodies which are knowledge, experts themselves, and the institution. Peer review debates coupled with unfair discourses in scientific purity in the US is an example of how politics can dent the body of knowledge. The voice of the experts should not be hindered by politics if they don’t have the competency or knowledge in sciences.

Chapter 9 (Technologies of Humility: Citizen participation in governing science)

I. More science results to more uncertainties
The chapter started as an irony of tragedies despite technological developments. There are various disasters that are humanly impossible without science and technology. It is ironic that the development due to science would solve one problem in a society but oftentimes harbor with it bigger uncertainties that could be detrimental to people. The furthering of science makes us inquisitive of many things that gives us fear despite being ignorant to the risk associated with it. The democratization of science is also an event that is very dangerous, as non-experts become involved into a subject matter that is outside one’s competency.
II. Blurring the lines of basic and applied research and fallibility of peer-review
Basic research are those that are university driven but are still funded by the government. Applied research however are those made in the industry and specializes on applications. Despite the distinction of the two, modern research is hard to categorize if they are basic or applied. The blurring of the line can be in part attributed to the role of peer-review which standardizes scientific methods and streamlines the research. Peer-review however became questionable due to publicized frauds.
III. Problems and prospects in science
Fraud in science is an example of deviance which is becoming ugly when we know that the funds are from the government. Peer-review is also under scrutiny as it can become biased if not rooted on noble causes and honesty. Industrial researches are more skewed towards public interests while academic researchers are also found guilty of being too much of an environmentalist and anti-technology. Science is not left with problems though as its modernization resulted to merging with various disciplines. The awareness on the social implications of science are also gaining traction among practitioners.


Jasanoff, S. (2012). Science and Public Reason. London and New York: Routledge.

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