Science in Democracy
Public controversies over issues ranging from global warming to biotechnology have politicized scientific expertise and research. Some respond with calls for restoring a golden age of value-free science. More promising efforts seek to democratize science. But what does that mean? Can it go beyond the typical focus on public participation? How does the politics of science challenge prevailing views of democracy? In Science in Democracy, Mark Brown draws on science and technology studies, democratic theory, and the history of political thought to show why an adequate response to politicized science depends on rethinking both science and democracy.
Brown enlists such canonical and contemporary thinkers as Machiavelli, Hobbes, Rousseau, Dewey, and Latour to argue that the familiar dichotomy between politics and science reinforces a similar dichotomy between direct democracy and representative government. He then develops an alternative perspective based on the mutual shaping of participation and representation in both science and politics. Political representation requires scientific expertise, and scientific institutions may become sites of political representation. Brown illustrates his argument with examples from expert advisory committees, bioethics councils, and lay forums. Different institutional venues, he shows, mediate different elements of democratic representation. If we understand democracy as an institutionally distributed process of collective representation, Brown argues, it becomes easier to see the politicization of science not as a threat to democracy but as an opportunity for it.
About the Author
Mark B. Brown is Associate Professor in the Department of Government at California State University, Sacramento.
"Rather than adding one more demonstration of science's intertwinement with politics, or one more call for increased public participation in science policy, Brown proposes a rethinking of democratic institutions… [T]his book should be considered essential reading for those interested in ongoing discussions about the relationships between science and politics." — R. Holifield, Contemporary Political Theory"—
"Science in Democracy presents a useful collection of arguments for anyone concerned with the politics of science… Democratizing science, [Brown] suggests, is less a matter of increasing public participation than of supporting a diverse ecology of modes of political representation." — A. Moore, Social Studies of Science"—
"Not only does [Brown] grapple with the complex values that are required by democratic representation; he also looks at how various institutions can and do embody those values and how we might do better… His book is clearly a must-read for those engaged in this issue." — M.J. Brown, Isis"—
"Brown . . .fights fire with fire, in the manner of Madison's treatment of factions: accept the politicization [of science] but fix the politics by creating a complex 'framework of democratic representation' throughout. His recommendations are quite detailed, and based on a deep, enjoyable analysis . . . This is, in fact, a thinker's book, and one closes it with the thought that 'well, it just might work.' Highly recommended." M. Berheide Choice"—
"Mark Brown's Science in Democracy is a uniquely brilliant critical analysis of the bearing of canonic and contemporary philosophical and theoretical texts on the place of science in democratic politics and institutions. This book is a gift to the intelligent general lay reader but indispensable to scholars and students in this vibrant field."
—Yaron Ezrahi, Professor of Political Science, Hebrew University of Jerusalem"—
"There have been some notable books by political scientists working in STS, but this is the first book to systematically deal with the core problems of political theory from an STS standpoint. Written with accessible language, and organized through a historical framework, Science in Democracy is highly recommended for scholars and students of political theory."
—Steve Fuller, Professor of Sociology, University of Warwick"—
"This is more than a good book; it is the book anyone will have to read to be literate in the topic of science and democracy."
—Frank Laird, Josef Korbel School of International Studies, University of Denver"—
Honorable Mention, 2010 First Book Award, given by the Foundations of Political Theory section of the American Political Science Association.