The state as facilitator and knowledge broker in the agora
Haris (Charalambos) Shekeris (Université Jean Moulin Lyon 3)
Paper short abstract:
Ignorance plays a structural and political role in modern society. Proposals of division of cognitive labour and of Science certifying knowledge are to be criticised as excluding and disempowering lay-people. I propose citizen deliberation as a decision procedure for wicked problems situations.
Paper long abstract:
The proposed paper addresses the relationship between STS and democratic theory; a topical subject as science and technology transform the understanding of and the possibilities for a democratic polity. My starting point is the observation of the significant structural and political role of ignorance within modern society. Stuctural because of a) the sheer amount of specialised knowledge and its fragmentation and b) the certification requirements for acceptance as an expert; political because all citizens, from a State leader down, operate with a necessarily limited amount of information of which a subset may be deemed as knowledge. Judging this situation as problematic, I will address two elements of a response: the division of cognitive labour and the designation of the certification of knowledge claims to the institution of Science. I will argue that these two proposals, as articulated in the work of Philip Kitcher (2011) are flawed as they a) disempower and exclude the citizen from important decisions b) need additional political resources to compel citizens to action c) unduly restrict the pool of available resources in the face of wicked problems. My proposal is to designate the State as the certifier of public knowledge via processes of large-scale binding deliberation, at least on topics concerning all citizens. Supplying citizens with the cognitive means to meaningfully participate in such processes/meetings ought to be the responsibility of the State, and the aim should be for the use of the emergent civic epistemologies (Jasanoff 2011) in guiding State action.
The room where it happens: inclusion, exclusion and power in STS research and practice