Does Controversial Science Call For Public Participation? The Case Of Gmo Skepticism

Les ateliers de l'éthique/The Ethics Forum 12 (1):26-50 (2017)
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Abstract

Andreas Christiansen,Karin Jonch-Clausen,Klemens Kappel | : Many instances of new and emerging science and technology are controversial. Although a number of people, including scientific experts, welcome these developments, a considerable skepticism exists among members of the public. The use of genetically modified organisms is a case in point. In science policy and in science communication, it is widely assumed that such controversial science and technology require public participation in the policy-making process. We examine this view, which we call the Public Participation Paradigm, using the case of GMOs as an example. We suggest that a prominent reason behind the call for public participation is the belief that such participation is required for democratic legitimacy. We then show that the most prominent accounts of democratic legitimacy do not, in fact, entail that public participation is required in cases of controversial science in general, or in the case of GMOs in particular. | : Beaucoup d’avancées scientifiques et de technologies émergentes sont controversées. Bien qu’un certain nombre de personnes, incluant des experts scientifiques, sont favorables à ces développements, la population demeure largement sceptique. Le recours aux organismes génétiquement modifiés illustre une telle situation. Dans les politiques et communications scientifiques, il est largement tenu pour acquis que de telles controverses scientifiques et technologiques requièrent la participation publique dans le processus de prise de décision politique. Nous examinons ce point de vue, que nous appelons le paradigme de la participation publique [Public Participation Paradigm], en nous servant du cas des OGM. Nous suggérons qu’une raison centrale en faveur de l’appel à la participation publique se situe dans la croyance qu’une telle participation est requise par la légitimité démocratique. Nous montrons ensuite que la plupart des principales conceptions de la légitimité démocratique n’impliquent pas, en fait, que la participation publique puisse être requise pour les controverses scientifiques en général, et pour les OGM en particulier.

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Author Profiles

Karin Clausen
University of Copenhagen
Klemens Kappel
University of Copenhagen
Andreas T. Christiansen
University of Copenhagen

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