Sunday, 5 October 2008

Post-feminist-modernist idiocy

I thought, naively, that the exposure of itiotism of post modernist, feminist, multicultural critique of science, done, for example by Sokal and Bricmont, or by Levitt and Gross would at least discourage further attempts. How wrong I was...

Searching for references on the modern fate of amateur scientist I have found some papers devoted to "citizen scientist". At first I though that the topic wouls be a close one. So I dug in, into, for example, papers by Karin Backstrand:
Civic Science for Sustainability: Reframing the Role of Experts, Policy-Makers and Citizens in Environmental Governance Global Environmental Politics, 2003, 3, 24-41
Scientisation vs. Civic Expertise in Environmental Governance: Eco-feminist, Eco-modern and Post-modern Responses Environmental Politics, 2004, 13, 695-714

The latter lecture has been a clear example that the trends are alive and kicking:
Scientific rationality should be replaced by a social and ecological rationality that entails a self-critique of the progress of ‘scientific truths’. Science should be de-monopolised and democratised and redirected toward a social rationality.

The discourses and practices of science are at the heart of theories of risk society and reflexive modernisation. The encroachment of scientific and technological practice can be seen as a cause of environmental problems. However, if the role of science in decision-making can be reframed, science can also present the solutions to global environmental hazards. A distinction
is made between primary and reflexive scientisation. Primary scientisation belongs to the epoch of the industrial society and simple modernity associated with a positivistic science with a claim to universal and objective truth. Moreover, there is a clear division between the enlightened priesthood of scientific experts and ignorant laymen. Science has
become increasingly professionalised and inaccessible to non-experts. In contrast, reflexive scientisation implies that scientific decision-making on environmental risks is opened up for social rationality and wider participation. Society has to exercise a new level of self-critique and systematic self-doubt has to be invoked in science.
Society has to exercise a new level of self-critique and systematic self-doubt has to be invoked in science
However, the expert-centred forms of knowledge with their secrecy and centralised character need a democratic check.

While my own goal is simply to broaden the social (civic) participation in science I see no other way to do it than to bring up the interested perties knolwege of the scientific methods, processes and results. Trying to broaden the participation by denigrating scinece seems not just plain stupid, but extremely dangerous.

The feminist part is also present, and how! Backstrand writes:
I start by presenting three green perspectives – ecofeminist, eco-modern and postmodernism – which all offer a trenchant critique of how science and technology generate unprecedented environmental risks.

The relationship between human societies and the environment is gendered, i.e. structured by patriarchal relations that have positioned women closer to nature. However, feminist philosophy of science has stretched the argument further: the central norms underpinning science – rationality, objectivity and control – are also celebrated masculine ideals.

An important assumption in eco-feminism is the conceptual connection between the subordination of women, the destruction of the environment and scientific rationality. This revolves around the women-nature association – women are associated with nature and the feminine, which, in turn, are devalued and degraded.

Just one small question: in which type of society are women more subordinated: in Nature-living primitive societies or in todays, Science-begotten modern society? Would Karin Backstrand be allowed to have her say in other corcumstances than those brought by the accumulated knowledge of whole humanity, men and women alike?

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