“What Does Science Policy Have to do With Democracy?” with guest Heather Douglas


For a transrcipt of this episode, click here.

Every day we hear politicians make scientific claims that support their policies, but many of them contradict each other. Our lives are full of images of people in lab coats who are above politics, but we know they also make choices about what to study and which conclusions to call attention to. Does this mean that science and politics are enemies? And, does government policy tell citizens what to believe or do citizens’ convictions determine the government’s positions? On this episode of Why? we look at the claim that science is objective, examine the values that make it successful, and ask whether there should be absolutely free inquiry in a modern democracy.

Heather Douglas is the Waterloo Chair in Science and Society at the University of Waterloo. She is the author of the book Science, Policy, and the Value Free Ideal. Her work focuses on the role of values in science, the relationship between science and policy, and the history of the philosophy of science.

During the discussion, we mentioned Thomas Kuhn’s influential book The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. You can buy it here.

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