Anti-Science and the Assault on Democracy: Defending Reason in a Free Society

Anti-Science and the Assault on Democracy: Defending Reason in a Free Society


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Defending the role that science must play in democratic society—science defined not just in terms of technology but as a way of approaching problems and viewing the world.

In this collection of original essays, experts in political science, the hard sciences, philosophy, history, and other disciplines examine contemporary anti-science trends, and make a strong case that respect for science is essential for a healthy democracy.
The editors note that a contradiction lies at the heart of modern society. On the one hand, we inhabit a world increasingly dominated by science and technology. On the other, opposition to science is prevalent in many forms—from arguments against the teaching of evolution and the denial of climate change to the promotion of alternative medicine and outlandish claims about the effects of vaccinations. Adding to this grass-roots hostility toward science are academics espousing postmodern relativism, which equates the methods of science with regimes of "power-knowledge."
While these cultural trends are sometimes marketed in the name of "democratic pluralism," the contributors contend that such views are actually destructive of a broader culture appropriate for a democratic society. This is especially true when facts are degraded as "fake news" and scientists are dismissed as elitists. Rather than enhancing the capacity for rational debate and critical discourse, the authors view such anti-science stances on either the right or the left as a return to premodern forms of subservience to authority and an unwillingness to submit beliefs to rational scrutiny.
Beyond critiquing attitudes hostile to science, the essays in this collection put forward a positive vision for how we might better articulate the relation between science and democracy and the benefits that accrue from cultivating this relationship.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781633884748
Publisher: Prometheus Books
Publication date: 12/11/2018
Pages: 303
Sales rank: 288,083
Product dimensions: 6.20(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

Michael J. Thompson is Professor of Political Science at William Paterson University. He is the author of The Republican Reinvention of Radicalism, The Perversion of Subjectivity: Toward a Critical Theory of Consciousness and The Politics of Inequality (2007). His many edited volumes include The Palgrave Handbook of Critical Theory and Georg Lukács Reconsidered: Critical Essays on Politics, Philosophy, and Aesthetics (2011).

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From the Introduction

Excerpted from "Anti-Science and the Assault on Democracy"
by .
Copyright © 2018 Michael J. Thompson.
Excerpted by permission of Prometheus Books.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents

Introduction 7

Part I Reforging the Link between Science and Democracy

1 What Is Science and Why Should We Care? Alan Sokal 17

2 Science and the Democratic Mind Michael J. Thompson 35

3 The Synthesis of Science and Democracy: A Deweyan Appraisal Joseph Chuman 59

4 The Philosophy of the Open Future Lee Smolin 77

Part II Science's Democratic Dimensions

5 The Scientific Revolution and Individual Inquiry Diana M. Judd 105

6 The Left, Science Studies, and Global Warming Margaret C. Jacob 123

7 Betraying the Founders' Legacy: Democracy as a Weapon against Science Barbara Forrest 131

Part III Perverted Science, Disfigured Democracy

8 The Return of Determinism: Science, Power, and Sirens in Distress Kurt Jacobsen Alba Alexander 153

9 Back to the Futurists: On Accelerationism Left and Right Landon Frim Harrison Fluss 177

10 The Myth of the Expert as Elite: Postmodern Theory, Right-Wing Populism, and the Assault on Truth Gregory Smulcwicz-Zucker 203

Part IV The Revenge of Anti-Science

11 Plato's Revenge: An Undemocratic Report from an Overheated Planet Philip Kitchen 225

12 Democracy and the Problem of Pseudoscience Michael Ruse 241

13 The Freedom to Believe-Or Not Thomas de Zengotita 259

List of Contributors 271

Notes 275

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