A Desirable Vision or an Escapist Fallacy?
In my talk, I will critically discuss Philip Kitcher’s concept of ‚Well-Ordered Science.‘ Kitcher (2011, p. 105) asks, „If contemporary Science, and the public system of knowledge in which it is embedded, is to serve the purposes of the citizens of a democratic society, what kinds of investigations should be pursued?“ Kitcher’s panacea is tutoring since he locates the trouble spot in a ‚vulgar‘ – or untutored – democracy. I will discuss two problematic aspects of Kitcher’s vision of the public-science interface. First, the concept of tutoring implicitly assumes the existence of the Scientific Knowledge (with a capital S and K); it ‚black-boxes‘ the process of knowledge production. As a consequence, Kitcher implicitly assumes that value judgments only play a role in choosing kinds of investigations. I conclude that the Scientific Knowledge does not exist. In line with feminist scholars such as Martin, Hrdy, or Douglas I argue that the process of knowledge production does and should include non-epistemic values and value judgments; in other words, the production of scientific knowledge must not exclude the demos to not fall into a state of ‚disciplined democracy.‘ Such a conception furthermore demonstrates the flawed understanding of tutoring, which represents a linear transfer of knowledge from science to society and follows an ideal of control. Secondly, I will show that the idea of a rational consensus – as proposed by Kitcher – is fundamentally misleading. A rational consensus cannot exist; moreover, even as an ideal, such a conception undermines pluralism and democracy by tendency.
Richard Bärnthaler is currently living in Vienna. He has a master’s degree in Socio-Ecological Economics and Policy from the Vienna University of Economics and Business, where he also held a teaching assistant position at the Research Institute Multi-Level Governance and Development. Richard is currently pursuing a master’s degree in History- and Philosophy of Science (University of Vienna) and is working at the Institute for Development Studies (University of Vienna) as well as at the Research Institute Multi-Level Governance and Development (Vienna University of Economics and Business). Richard also studied in the US (Bentley University) and Japan (Hitotsubashi University). His research focus and interests are related to the Sociology of Scientific Knowledge (‚The Strong Programme‘), Relativism, Social Epistemology, Science and Technology Studies as well as Political Philosophy.