Introduction to Mandated Science

Part of the Environmental Ethics and Science Policy book series (EESP, volume 1)


We regularly use science and scientists in the making of public policy. We depend on scientists, for example, to tell us whether we should be worried about radiation and whether nuclear power plants are safe. We expect science to tell us if a pesticide is likely to cause disease, so we can decide whether and under what conditions to permit its use. Public confidence in medicines, clear air and water, safe and quiet working conditions and the reliability of some products rests on the belief that scientists have been consulted about their safety. Our image of scientists pictures them at work in the laboratory; we seldom raise the question of how scientific information moves from the laboratory to the world of politics and policy making.


Public Policy Standard Setting Pesticide Residue Scientific Work Expert Committee 
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  1. 1.
    See, Liora Salter, “Fairness in the Canadian Inquiry Process”, Fairness in Environment Assessment, (Edmonton: Canadian Institute for Resource Law, 1983).Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    For a discussion of the difficulties encountered by scientists who must participate, at the same time, in both a scientific and a regulatory discourse, see, Liora Salter, “Science and Peer Review: The Canadian Standard-Setting Experience”, Science, Technology & Human Values, Vol. 10, Issue 4, (Fall 1985), pp. 37–46.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    W. W. Lowrance, Of Acceptable Risk: Science and the Determination of Safety, (Los Altos, California: William Kaufmann, Inc., 1976).Google Scholar
  4. 4a.
    See, for example, the proposals for a Science Court outlined in the report of the Task Force of the Presidential Advisory Group on Anticipated Advances in Science and Technology, “The Science Court Experiment: An Interim Report”, Science, (August 1976), pp. 653–656; W. D. Ruckelhaus, “Risk in a Free Society”, Risk Analysis, Vol. 4, (1984), pp. 157–162CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 4b.
    W. W. Lowrance, “Risk in a Free Society”, Risk Analysis, Vol. 4, (1984), pp. 157–162.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 5.
    See, Sheila Jasanoff, Risk Management and Political Culture: A Comparative Study of Science in the Policy Context, (New York: Russell Sage Foundation, 1986).Google Scholar
  7. 6.
    A. Kantrowitz, “The Science Court Experiment: Criticisms and Responses”, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, (April 1977).Google Scholar
  8. 7a.
    B. Latour and S. Woolgar, Laboratory Life: The Social Construction of Scientific Facts, (London and Beverly Hills: Sage, 1979)Google Scholar
  9. 7b.
    Bruno Latour, “Give Me a Laboratory and I Will Raise the World”, in Karin Knorr-Cetina and Michael Mulkay, (eds.), Science Observed, (London and Beverly Hills: Sage, 1983), pp. 141–170Google Scholar
  10. 7c.
    Steve Woolgar, (ed.), “Laboratory Studies”, Social Studies of Science, Vol. 12, No. 4, (1982), pp. 481–558.Google Scholar
  11. 8.
    Karin Knorr-Cetina, The Manufacture of Knowledge: An Essay on the Constructivist and Contextual Nature of Science, (Oxford: Pergamon Press, 1981).Google Scholar
  12. 9a.
    Among Them, Michael Lynch, Art and Artifacts in Laboratory Science, (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1982)Google Scholar
  13. 9b.
    Doug McKegney, Decisions, Consequences and Public Explanations: The Relationship Between Research Activity and Formal Knowledge in an Ecological Laboratory, Ph. D. Dissertation, Department of Communication, Simon Fraser University, Bumaby, B.C., 1982Google Scholar
  14. 9c.
    Trevor Pinch, “The Sun-Set: The Presentation of Certainty in Scientific Life”, Social Studies of Science, Vol. 11, No. 1, pp. 63–93.Google Scholar
  15. 10a.
    The literature is extensive, comprehending most of the contemporary writing in the sociology of science. Representative works, in addition to those previously cited, include: Barry Barnes, Scientific Knowledge and Sociological Theory, (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1974)Google Scholar
  16. 10b.
    Barry Barnes, Interests and the Growth of Knowledge, (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1977)Google Scholar
  17. 10c.
    Barry Barnes, T.S. Kuhn and Social Science, (London: Macmillan, 1982)Google Scholar
  18. 10d.
    David Bloor, Knowledge and Social Imagery, (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1976)Google Scholar
  19. 10e.
    Augustine Brannigan, The Social Basis of Scientific Discoveries, (Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press, 1981)Google Scholar
  20. 10f.
    H. M. Collins and Trevor Pinch, Frames of Meaning: The Social Construction of Extraordinary Science, (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1982)Google Scholar
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    Michael Mulkay, Science and the Sociology of Knowledge, (London: George Allen and Unwin, 1979)Google Scholar
  22. 10h.
    Steven Yearley, Science and Sociological Practice, (London: Open University Press, 1984).Google Scholar
  23. 11a.
    Of the recent work in this area, Michael Mulkay is most explicit. See, G. Nigel Gilbert and Michael Mulkay, Opening Pandora’s Box: A Sociological Analysis of Scientists’ Discourse, (Cambrige and New York: Cambridge University Press, 1984)Google Scholar
  24. 11b.
    Michael Mulkay, The Word and the Word: Explorations in the Form of Sociological Analysis, (London: George Allen and Unwin, 1985).Google Scholar
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    See also, Michael Mulkay, Jonathan Potter and Steven Yearley, “Why an Analysis of Scientific Discourse is Needed”, Science Observed, Karin Knorr-Cetina and Michael Mulkay, (eds.), (London and Beverly Hills: Sage, 1983), pp. 171–203, as well as other studies in this collection.Google Scholar
  26. 11d.
    Although it seems redundant to cite, T. S. Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (second enlarged edition), (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1962), has attained something like the status of Genesis in its account of the creation and legitimation of scientific knowledge.Google Scholar
  27. 12.
    For a discussion of this process, see Arie Rip, “Legitimations of Science in a Changing World”, Wissenschafts spräche und Gesellschaft, ed. Theo Bungarten (Hamburg: Edition Akademion, 1986), pp. 133–48.Google Scholar
  28. 13a.
    See, for example, the study by the U.S. National Academy of Sciences entitled, Risk Assessment in the Federal Government, (Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press, 1983), which goes through an excellent list of points in risk assessments at which value laden assumptions must be made.Google Scholar
  29. 13b.
    An earlier book, Boundaries of Analysis by Harold Feiveson, Frank W. Sinden and Robert H. Socolow, eds., (Cambridge, Mass.: Ballinger Pub. Co., 1976), provides a useful critique of the uses of science to justify water resource projects.Google Scholar
  30. 13c.
    A number of books provide useful case study glimpses of the uses of science in environmental controversies: for three examples, note Robert Crandall and Lester Lave’s book The Scientific Basis of Health and Safety Regulation, (Washington, D.C.: The Brooking Institution, 1981) which addresses several regulatory cases from the perspective of scientists, economists, and administratorsGoogle Scholar
  31. 13d.
    Arthur Vander’s Nutrition, Stress and Toxic Chemicals, (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1981) which provides a valuable scientist’s perspective on the use of scientific information in several controversial health regulation issuesGoogle Scholar
  32. 13e.
    Robert Bartlett’s The Reserve Mining Controversy, (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1980) which focusses on the treatment of science in the debate over disposal of mining wastes into Lake Superior.Google Scholar
  33. 13f.
    , Ted Greenwood’s Knowledge and Discretion in Government Regulation, (New York: Praeger, 1984), provides a good analysis of the use of science in the regulatory process itself.Google Scholar
  34. 14a.
    See, for example, A. M. Weinberg, “Science and Trans-Science”, Minerva, Vol. 10, (1982), pp. 209–222CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. 14b.
    Science Council of Canada, “Review and Recommendations: Science and the Legal Process”, in Regulating the Regulators,(Ottawa: Science Council of Canada, 1983)Google Scholar
  36. 14c.
    M. R. Wessel, Science and Conscience, (New York: Columbia University Press, 1980).Google Scholar
  37. 15.
    Liora Salter and William Leiss, Consultation in the Assessment and Registration of Pesticides, Canada, Department of Agriculture, 1984.Google Scholar
  38. 16.
    See William Leiss, The Risk Management Process, Canada, Department of Agriculture, October 1985.Google Scholar
  39. 17.
    See, Liora Salter, “Observations on the Politics of Risk Assessment: The Captan Case”, Canadian Public Policy, Vol. XI, No. 1, (March 1985), pp. 64–76.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1988

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of CommunicationSimon Fraser UniversityCanada

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