People send me things. Here’s one from today’s mail. It is a response by Dr. Jaap Hanekamp to the essays by Oxford Professor Jerome Ravetz carried here on WUWT recently.
Dr. Ravetz’s first posting on WUWT created quite a controversey. You can read it here:
and Part 2 here:
Hi AnthonyWith great interest we read Ravetz’ essay on WUWT and the discussions that followed.
Now at climategate.nl (which contrary to climategate.com is alive and kicking 🙂 we also have posted an extensive reaction in English which we hope can clarify some of the problems with Ravetz’s hypothesis of post-normal science.Jaap Hanekamp, the author, is publishing a lot about the precautionary principle. He is a chemist and also a teacher of chemistry and science philosophy at the Roosevelt Academy in Middelburg. – Marcel Crok
The democratization of science, instead of reductionism, is the method of Ravetz’s choice to move forward with science. Because of the many technological and scientific risks we are exposed to according to Ravetz and many with him, particular directions in scientific and social inquiry, because of their ostensible positive social, political, and environmental outcomes, should be favoured. Put differently, scientific inquiry, at the same time, should be explanatory, normative, practical and self-reflexive.
Therefore, ‘an argument is cogent for an audience if, according to standards that audience would deem on reflection to be relevant, the premises are acceptable and in the appropriate way sufficient to support the conclusion.’ (Boger, G. 2005. Subordinating Truth–Is Acceptability Acceptable? Argumentation 19: 187 – 238) Ideally, this acceptability approach should empower people with capacities to reason critically and to assess sharply the conflicting (scientific) argumentations that play an important role in their lives. The UK government’s inquiry into the purported adverse health effects of mobile phones for instance, concluded that in future ‘non-peer reviewed papers and anecdotal evidence should be taken into account’ as part of the process for reaching decisions on these matters (Mobile Phones and Health. 2000. Independent Expert Group On Mobile Phones, National Radiological Protection Board, Didcot, p. 102.)
Even if one were to agree, in a preliminary sense, with the acceptability approach as democratically laudable and worthy of effort, given the wide divergence of audiences and participants not sharing a common interest, resolving an argument’s validity on the basis of acceptability of premises and acceptable inferential links embedded in a given value-based context will in all likelihood inexcusably favour the stronger of the ‘disputants’ and place the weaker at a decided disadvantage. Thus, if we are to excise external authority (as previously hypostatised in the notion of God, by the way) that is thought to frustrate democratisation of the scientific discourse and thereby subverts the cause of justice, then the acceptability requirement re-imposes another, but hidden, authority that it sought to eliminate, namely the will to power.