What Is Science?

  • Harry CollinsEmail author
  • Robert Evans
  • Darrin Durant
  • Martin Weinel


Since the early 1970s, in social studies of science and technology (STS), the ‘logic of scientific discovery’ has been displaced by detailed examinations of science in practice; this has eroded the cultural position of scientific expertise. Furthermore, the ‘crown jewels’ of science, Newtonian physics and the like, are no longer accepted as justifying science’s contribution to citizens’ more diffuse technical concerns. Scientific expertise now seems more fallible, less removed from ordinary decision-making and less insulated from political and social forces. Populist leaders, who attack scientific expertise because it limits their power, can draw on these ideas. STS must stop celebrating the erosion of scientific expertise and, without sacrificing the new insights, rethink the justification for the role of science in democratic societies.


Social studies of science and technology (STS) Erosion of science’s role in democracy Scientific values Rethinking science’s role 


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Harry Collins
    • 1
    Email author
  • Robert Evans
    • 1
  • Darrin Durant
    • 2
  • Martin Weinel
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Social SciencesCardiff UniversityCardiffUK
  2. 2.Historical & Philosophical StudiesUniversity of MelbourneMelbourneAustralia

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