Author Information: Steve Fuller, Warwick University, S.W.Fuller@warwick.ac.uk
Fuller, Steve. “‘Is Science Out of Control?’ A Failed Book Proposal.” Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective 5, no. 1 (2016): 48-51.
The PDF of the article gives specific page numbers. Shortlink: http://wp.me/p1Bfg0-2zp
In 2013, I was invited to publish a book in a new Polity Press series on ‘New Human Frontiers’, which had already commissioned books by, among others, Harry Collins and Mike Hulme. These books were meant to be short and punchy—30,000 words with a clear message. The question posed by the title had been agreed—but not the specific take on it. Polity, a publisher of two of my previous books (including one portraying intelligent design in a sympathetic light), found the argument made for the generally negative answer to the question unacceptable.
Image credit: Andreas Brink, via flickr
If any form of authority can claim to have global reach, it is science. With the backing of science, virtually anything is possible politically. Medical scientists compel vaccinations, dietary regimes and hospital stays. Earth scientists license the movement of people from their homes and alter the patterns of their energy use. Economic scientists dictate the flow of money and define who is rich and poor. But all of these scientists are not subject to the normal democratic processes of accountability. Few if any of them are even elected to public office. Rather, they serve as advisors to elected officials or act at a distance in universities and think tanks as ‘thought leaders’. This state-of-affairs alone might suggest that science is ‘out of control’. Continue Reading…