Introduction: Pluralist Democracy, Populism and Expertise
The rise of populism in the West has led to attacks on scientific expertise. We explain populism through its contrast with pluralist democracy and explain why populists attack scientific expertise. Populism treats the losers at the ballot box and anyone who stands in the way of the government, including scientific experts, as traitors. In contrast, pluralist democracy accommodates minority views by limiting the power of government with ‘checks and balances’. Contemporary science and technology studies (STS) erodes the cultural importance of scientific expertise and unwittingly supports the rise of populism. STS must re-think the justification of scientific expertise and its role in society without sacrificing its deep insights into the social nature of science; it should no longer simply celebrate the erosion of sciences cultural pre-eminence.
KeywordsPopulism Pluralist democracy Scientific expertise Checks and balances Science and technology studies (STS)
- Freedland, Jonathan. 2017. The Year of Trump Has Laid Bare the US Constitution’s Serious Flaws. The Guardian, December 30, UK edition, sec. Opinion.Google Scholar
- Garfinkel, Harold. 2011. Studies in Ethnomethodology. Reprinted. Cambridge: Polity Press.Google Scholar
- Gouldner, Alvin, W. 1954. Patterns of Industrial Bureaucracy. New York: Free Press.Google Scholar
- Levitsky, Steven, and Daniel Ziblatt. 2018. How Democracies Die. 1st ed. New York: Crown.Google Scholar
- Wittgenstein, Ludwig. 1953. Philosophical Investigations. Translated by G.E.M Anscombe. Oxford: Blackwell.Google Scholar