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The ‘science for policy’ component of the Studies of Expertise and Experience (SEE) research programme

Weinel, Martin 2015. The ‘science for policy’ component of the Studies of Expertise and Experience (SEE) research programme. Presented at: 2015 Science in Society Conference, Chicago, IL, USA, 5-6 November 2015.

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Abstract

One important and controversial aspect of the Studies in Expertise and Experience (SEE) is its model of ‘technological decision-making’. Technological decision-making (TDM) can be understood as making policy-decisions in which scientific expertise plays a non-trivial role (Krimsky 1984). The SEE approach to TDM is an attempt to find an approach that avoids the problems of both technocracy and technological populism. While experts have too much power under technocracy, they have too little under technological populism. In stark contrast to these two approaches, SEE’s TDM model of technological decision-making rests on a strict separation of political and technical aspects of technological decisions, thus avoiding the domination of one or the other aspect. Two principles, in particular, structure the model: first, it is suggested that only those with relevant technical expertise have the right to make technical judgements that belong to the technical phase. This principle guarantees the autonomy of experts when it comes to answering propositional questions of a technical nature. Second, it also insist that policy-makers must retain freedom of political choice. This means that the output of the technical phase – expert advice – must not determine the choice of policies. What the model lacks is a conceptualisation as to how exactly the gap between the technical and the political is bridged? How can expert judgements feed into the political decision-making if both spheres are supposed to operate autonomously? The solution that is proposed in this paper is to distinguish between the content of a political decision and its justification. While political actors ought to be free to choose policies, they must not be allowed to use justifications for political choices that contradict the best technical knowledge available at the time of decision-making.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Speech)
Date Type: Completion
Status: Unpublished
Schools: Centre for the Study of Knowledge Expertise and Science (KES)
Social Sciences (Includes Criminology and Education)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 30 March 2016
Last Modified: 04 Jun 2017 08:39
URI: http://orca-mwe.cf.ac.uk/id/eprint/82300

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