Feyerabend and manufactured disagreement: reflections on expertise, consensus, and science policy

Synthese 198 (Suppl 25):6053-6084 (2020)
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Abstract

Feyerabend is infamous for his defense of pluralism, which he extends to every topic he discusses. Disagreement, a by-product of this pluralism, becomes a sign of flourishing critical communities. In Feyerabend’s political works, he extends this pluralism from science to democratic societies and incorporates his earlier work on scientific methodology into a procedure for designing just policy. However, a description and analysis of Feyerabend’s conception of disagreement is lacking. In this paper, I reconstruct and assess Feyerabend’s conception of disagreement, with a particular emphasis on the role of experts, and its role in the formation of science policy. I go on to assess this argument in light of recent literature on manufactured disagreement on politically contentious science policy. I conclude by suggesting some prospects and problems for de-idealizing Feyerabend’s position on disagreement to see whether it may be plausibly implemented.

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Jamie Shaw
University of Toronto, St. George Campus

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