Science Lessons from the Climate Discourse-Ravetz Speaks

From time to time I have questioned how different groups have characterized the need for “science” as the basis for planning or for a planning rule. I have argued that we cannot just dive in and make pronouncements about the role of science, without talking about the findings of the academic discipline of science and technology studies. Jerry Ravetz is one of the folks who has articulated the concept of “post-normal science.”
From Wikipedia:

Post-Normal Science is a concept developed by Silvio Funtowicz and Jerome Ravetz, attempting to characterise a methodology of inquiry that is appropriate for cases where “facts are uncertain, values in dispute, stakes high and decisions urgent”. It is primarily seen in the context of the debate over global warming and other similar, long-term issues where we possess less information than we would like.

This is an interesting piece by Mr. Ravetz on some of the current climate science quandaries. We don’t talk much about “post-normal science” and the role of extended peer communities in our day to day FS world. I’d be interested in what you think of this piece and his closing statement on the democratization of knowledge and power, and the role of the extended peer community and the blogosphere:

The new technologies of communications are revolutionising knowledge and power in many areas. The extended peer community of science on the blogosphere will be playing its part in that process. Let dialogue commence!

3 thoughts on “Science Lessons from the Climate Discourse-Ravetz Speaks”

  1. Another “key concept”, thanks Sharon.

    I have been an advocate for, and a follower of post-normal science for a quite a while. Here is a little something I titled Ecological Economics as Post-Normal Science in 2006.

    And I believe that two books that Tom Hoekstra was involved with (along with T.H.F. Allen and Joe Tainter) had post-normal science as a foundation: Supply Side Sustainability and Toward a Unified Ecology. I found both useful.

  2. I don’t think that the science communities we normally deal with have yet embraced this concept. For one thing, it involves sharing of power.. much like collaborative governance. I am hoping that this blog could form an “extended peer community” for some discussions and reviews of papers.


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