Explicating Ways of Consensus-Making in Science and Society: Distinguishing the Academic, the Interface and the Meta-Consensus

  • Laszlo Kosolosky
  • Jeroen Van Bouwel
Part of the Ethical Economy book series (SEEP, volume 50)


In this chapter, we shed new light on the epistemic struggle between establishing consensus and acknowledging plurality, by explicating different ways of consensus-making in science and society and examining the impact hereof on their field of intersection, i.e. consensus conferences (in particular those organized by the National Institute of Health). We draw a distinction between, what we call, academic and interface consensus, to capture the wide appeal to consensus in existing literature. We investigate such accounts – i.e. from Miriam Solomon, John Beatty and Alfred Moore, and Boaz Miller – as to put forth a new understanding of consensus-making, focusing on the meta-consensus. We further defend how (NIH) consensus conferences enable epistemic work, through demands of epistemic adequacy and contestability, contrary to the claim that consensus conferences miss a window for epistemic opportunity (Solomon M, The social epistemology of NIH consensus conferences. In: Kincaid H, McKitrick J (ed) Establishing medical reality: methodological and metaphysical issues in philosophy of medicine. Springer, Dordrecht, 2007). Paying attention to the dynamics surrounding consensus, moreover, allows us to illustrate how the public understanding of science and the public use of the ideal of consensus could be well modified.


Pylorus Infection Consensus Conference Adefovir Dipivoxil Scientific Consensus Rational Deliberation 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



Research for this chapter was supported by subventions from the Research Foundation (FWO) – Flanders through research project G.0122.10. The authors would in particular like to thank Alfred Moore, Boaz Miller, Carlo Martini, Jan de Winter, Anna Leuschner, the anonymous reviewers and the audiences at TiLPS EPS seminar, EPSA13, VISU2013, SPSP2013, LOBSTER and the Bayreuth2012 workshop for their comments on previous versions of this chapter.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre for Logic and Philosophy of ScienceGhent UniversityGentBelgium

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