Center for Interdisziplinary Research

Science and Values: The Politicisation of Science

Date: May 25 - 30, 2009

Organizers: Martin Carrier, Peter Weingart (both Bielefeld)

Science and Values: The Politicisation of Science

The ESF-Conference Series on 'Science and Values' will be hosted by Bielefeld University and the Center for Interdisciplinary Research (ZiF), and is being organized by the Institute for Science and Technology Studies (IWT) of Bielefeld University in cooperation with the European Science Foundation. The series will encompass three conferences in a biennial schedule beginning in 2009, and again in 2011 and 2013. The topics of these conferences will be politicisation, commercialisation, and medialisation of science, respectively.
A general worry in this field is that the inclusion of sociopolitical values in the confirmation practice of science tends to undercut the objectivity of science. For instance, in the field of expertise, science-based advice for political decision-making is in constant danger of becoming identified with one of the warring political factions. By tying its judgments too intimately to certain sociopolitical values, science runs the risk of losing its credibility. On the one hand, including such values in the assessment procedure is mandatory for a responsible science. On the other hand, a social bias of science tends to undercut the overarching authority of science which derives from its factual basis. A science tied too intimately with social values might lose the capacity of 'speaking truth to power'. As a result, the increasing politicisation of science might undermine its credibility. To the extent that science enters the social arena and becomes part of political power play, the scientific claims to objectivity and trustworthiness tend to be sapped.
Each conference will bring together the knowledge and reflective competence of three disciplines, including the history, philosophy, and sociology of science. Such analyses of experts from science studies will be enriched with the experience and understanding of the practitioners, i.e., scientists working under value-related pressure (as it arises from practical challenges and social demands). In addition, representatives of relevant social groups (such as stakeholders) and the media will be included where appropriate.

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