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5.0 out of 5 stars
Governance Of Science: Ideology and the Future of the Open Society (Issues in Society)
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on 27 January 2000
This book is much more politically minded than Fuller's usual stuff and he says things that have needed to be said for a long time - namely, that organised enquiry is threatened by both the political correctness brigade and grant racketeers. There are some pretty wild positive proposals in here as well, which include enabling people to gamble on alternative research programmes as a way of raising public interest (and perhaps even support?) in science. Definitely worth a look, even if with arched eyebrow. Certainly much gutsier than run-of-the-mill science studies.
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on 9 February 2000
Fuller makes creative use of ideas from political philosophy to come up with a model for science policy. Encapsulating the model is the principle of "the right to be wrong". This is central to the political tradition of "republicanism", which appears to have been sidelined in public debate by its better known rivals, liberalism and communitarianism. Fuller examines and rejects liberal (free market politics) and communitarian (identity politics) arguments for the organization of knowledge. The liberal ideology punishes individuals whose ideas and projects are made "wrong" by the market - not by taking away their freedom to exist but by making it harder for them to move on and acquire intellectual capital. Dissent is highly risky in the absence of a safety-net in the case of failure. The communitarian ideology would forbid the very expression of certain ideas; it places cultural hurdles for individuals to dissent from their community, which in the case of science, is the academic discipline that they are a part of. By contrast, republicanism both encourages free expression and recognizes that specific steps must be taken to provide more than a few risk-takers with the incentive for such expression. Relying as it does on large-scale state-funded resources, "Big Science" undermines the republican ideal, Fuller argues - failure becomes too costly. Now that the question of government versus private funding for science is regularly being debated in the media, Fuller's proposals detailed in the book provide an interesting and thought-provoking alternative to the usual positions. But apart from science policy people, those interested in political theory should also find this book worth a read.
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