Sustainability Science

, Volume 13, Issue 2, pp 369–375 | Cite as

Interactions between scientific and social rationality: recommendation of intermediate layer for transdisciplinary sustainable science

  • Yuko Fujigaki
Special Feature: Case Report Integrated Climate Assessment: Risks, Uncertainties, and Society (ICA-RUS)
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Special Feature: Integrated Climate Assessment: Risks, Uncertainties, and Society (ICA-RUS)


This study analyzes how two different kinds of rationality—scientific and social—interact with each other with respect to the management of global climate change (GCC) risks. Interactions between scientific and social rationalities have two meanings: one is interaction between researchers and citizens (science and society), and the other is interaction between natural scientists and social scientists (among disciplines). As for former meaning, the present study conducted several attempts of “talking about climate” with citizens as transdisciplinary research practice in sustainable science. As for the latter meaning, the present study conducted transdisciplinary research among social scientists and natural scientists. The results show that there are three types of understanding on GCC: (A) understanding of the mechanism of GCC, (B) understanding of the effect of GCC, and (C) understanding of the countermeasures. The results also show the gaps between the understanding of experts and that of citizens: whereas experts want to show a Type A understanding first and then Type B followed by Type C, citizens tend to focus on Types B and C first. In addition, natural scientists tend to divide value-free statements and value-laden statements, whereas social scientists tend to consider that every statement includes value judgements. Here, natural scientists think of themselves as being neutral, because they divide technical issues and ethical issues, while citizens think that experts are not neutral, because they see natural scientists as putting more value on GCC risks than other risks. It is easy in scientific papers to criticize dichotomy between facts and value and linear model in which the interaction between science and policy is conceived of as unidimensional, linear, and one way: from science to policy. However, in actual interaction in transdisciplinary practice, these kinds of dichotomy and linear model still underlie in the base of experts’ thinking. To overcome these kinds of gaps between experts and citizen as well as between natural scientists and social scientists, we recommended a discussion space as an intermediate layer between government, experts, and public.


Social rationality Public understanding of GCC risk Gaps between experts and public Criticism to linear model Intermediate layer 


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Copyright information

© Springer Japan KK, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Interdisciplinary StudiesThe University of TokyoTokyoJapan

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