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L ix This book has been a long time in the making. I first conceived of the project in 2001 as an arc through the historical, philosophical, and practical terrain of science in policymaking. It seemed to me that the chronic debates and misconceptions that plague this terrain stemmed from the embrace of a particular ideal for scientific reasoning, the value-free ideal. Articulated clearly and defended by philosophers of science for over forty years, it was also pervasive in the science policy communities with which I was in conversation, particularly the risk assessment community I found at the Society for Risk Analysis (SRA). At the SRA’s annual meetings, I found not only a dynamic and open set of people deeply committed to hashing out the scientific implications of toxicology, epidemiology, biochemistry, and other disciplines, but also a community that believed that social and ethical values were not supposed to be involved in the assessment of this science, even though they continually found themselves unable to do a complete assessment without those values. The tensions were palpable, even as the fundamental norms causing those tensions were not made explicit. I wanted to bring those norms out in the open, examine their historical roots, see if they were in fact the correct norms, and, if possible, attempt to resolve the tensions. This book is the result. As a consequence, I began the project with three distinct audiences in mind. First, the book was to make a contribution to the philosophy of science, for that is the discipline that articulates most clearly and guards most zealously the norms of science. If I could not make arguments that were at least provocative, if not convincing, to this community, I would doubt the reliability of my own arguments. However, as I delved into the material, I began to see more clearly the historical roots Preface Douglas text.indd 9 4/16/09 2:47:00 PM x • preface of the discipline of philosophy of science, and how the value-free ideal was foundational to its very self-conception. In many ways, the arguments here will challenge philosophers of science over what philosophy of science is or should be, as the arguments suggest that an approach to the topic that is focused on the purely epistemic will always be inadequate. Science is more than an epistemic enterprise; it is also a moral enterprise and philosophers of science ignore this at their peril. The book is also written for scientists. I hope I have kept the philosophical jargon and typically turgid writing to a minimum, so that scientists enjoy the read, and find it helpful in thinking about the tensions they face every day in their practices. It is not an easy time to be a scientist. The relationship between science and society has become increasingly fraught with tension, the sources of science funding have shifted dramatically, and it is not always the case that critiques of science arise from ignorance of science and thus can be attributed to scientific illiteracy. What can and should be expected of scientists is not as clear as it once was (although I suspect that this issue has always been somewhat contested). I hope that this book helps to clarify some key expectations for scientists, as well as provide some useful guidance in an increasingly complex world. Finally, the book is written for policymakers and for anyone interested in policymaking. For too long, the policy process has been hamstrung by inappropriate expectations of what science can provide. Commentators have bemoaned the expectation that science could provide definitive guidance for policymakers, and they have complained that policymakers have sought the science that would support their predetermined policy choices, ignoring other evidence. Both extremes are abuses of science, ways of utilizing the prima facie authority of science to cover up the need for difficult choices in policymaking. But as this book should make clear, science is not the value-neutral terrain that policymakers might desire, and any use of science must acknowledge the value choices embedded in that use, even accepting a scientific claim as adequately supported by a body of evidence. Hopefully, understanding this will short-circuit much of the fruitless sound science– junk science rhetoric from the past two decades, making the way for a more transparent and open use of science for policymaking. Whether this book can successfully speak to all these audiences remains to be seen. Perhaps it was too much to expect of one book, but...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9780822973577
Related ISBN
9780822960263
MARC Record
OCLC
794702159
Pages
224
Launched on MUSE
2012-01-01
Language
English
Open Access
No
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