Democracy and scientific expertise: illusions of political and epistemic inclusion

Trout, J.
April 2013
Synthese;Apr2013, Vol. 190 Issue 7, p1267
Academic Journal
Realizing the ideal of democracy requires political inclusion for citizens. A legitimate democracy must give citizens the opportunity to express their attitudes about the relative attractions of different policies, and access to political mechanisms through which they can be counted and heard. Actual governance often aims not at accurate belief, but at nonepistemic factors like achieving and maintaining institutional stability, creating the feeling of government legitimacy among citizens, or managing access to influence on policy decision-making. I examine the traditional relationship between inclusiveness and accuracy, and illustrate this connection by discussing empirical work on how group decision-making can improve accuracy. I also advance a Generic Epistemic Principle that any evidence-based decision-making procedures must embrace. Focusing on policy-making, I then measure the distance between these standards and the ones actually implemented in U.S. political settings. Psychological research on individual and group decision-making is a source of normative assessment for existing policy judgment, but it neither rationalizes nor legitimates the actual and typical processes used in U.S. institutions of political decision making. To establish this point, I focus on one characteristic government institution-the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Science, Space, and Technology-that displays deliberative processes at odds with the sciences they advocate, and with the Generic Epistemic Principle. I explain this discouraging condition in terms of several inveterate factors in U.S. politics: a limitlessly money-driven and endless campaigning process that effectively forces elected representatives to align themselves with money and vote strategically, the use of procedural arrangements known to make people feel politically included when they are not, and the unresponsiveness of a majoritarian (vs. consensus) democracy.


Related Articles

  • Political Stability. Coleman, Denise Youngblood // Equatorial Guinea Country Review;2013, p27 

    A political stability index for all countries is presented which is calculated based on a given country's record of peaceful transitions of power, ability of a government to stay in office and carry out its policies risk against risk credible risks of government collapse.

  • Political Stability. Coleman, Denise Youngblood // France Country Review;2013, p86 

    The Political Stability Index covering all countries around the world in 2013 is presented.

  • Political Stability. Coleman, Denise Youngblood // North Korea Country Review;2013, p69 

    The article presents the Political Stability Index of countries around the world based on a country's record of peaceful transition of power and the ability of its government to stay in power vis-a-vis risks of government collapse.

  • Political Stability. Coleman, Denise Youngblood // Central African Republic Country Review;2013, p27 

    A table is presented that lists the global political stability index, as of July 2013, which is calculated through an established methodology by "CountryWatch" based on a given country's track record of peaceful power transitions, capacity of a government to stay in office and implement its...

  • ACHIEVING FAIRNESS IN UNITED STATES SENATE SUCCESSION LAWS: A UNIFORM PROPOSAL. Cramer, David // Seton Hall Legislative Journal;Jun2011, Vol. 35 Issue 2, p443 

    The article offers information on the proposed law on filling a vacant seat in the U.S. Senate. It states that the proposed law aims to balance the power of the state Governor in appointing replacement, assurance of legitimacy, to avoid underrepresentation, and fair results. It argues that other...

  • The Presidential Race.  // Middle East Monitor: East Med;Sep2007, Vol. 17 Issue 9, p1 

    The article reports on the importance of a presidential election that will boost political stability in Lebanon. According to the author, the country is seeking for presidential election hoping to return the semblance in the political scene. However, Speaker of Parliament, Nabih Berris refused...

  • Political Stability Depends On Successful Elections.  // Africa Monitor: North Africa Monitor;Dec2011, Vol. 16 Issue 12, p2 

    The article discusses the important role of successful parliamentary election to the political stability in Morocco. It states that the political stability is highly dependent on a successful parliamentary election in November 2011. It mentions that the election is an effort by the king to...

  • Political Stability.  // Slovenia Country Review;2012, p30 

    A chart is presented that depicts the level of political stability of different countries in 2011, which is measured based on the quality of a country's government and the threats that can compromise and undermine stability.

  • Country Risk Summary: IRAN.  // Middle East Monitor: The Gulf;Aug2003, Vol. 13 Issue 8, p10 

    While the U.S. is concentrating on a regime change in Iran, its strategy to achieve this is likely to be different than the approach taken in Iraq. Some tactics such as broadcasting anti-regime messages to the Iranian public via a satellite radio station, are similar to those employed in Iraq,...


Read the Article


Sorry, but this item is not currently available from your library.

Try another library?
Sign out of this library

Other Topics