Such arrangements include some of the sacred cows of the academic dynasty, including peer review, self-delimiting disciplinary domains, and the reification of scientific or scholarly consensus in the form of citation statistics. Should five-year olds have the same say as forty-year olds on climate change? So what is the argument? The question of what is at stake for whom is addressed here, but perhaps not as fully as some of us may need to be completely convinced of the salubrious effects of seeing science all of knowledge, really as a game. Any attempt to describe that situation from our current framework would be, strictly speaking, nonsense. Even the glossary is entertaining. But the most striking thesis of this chapter, perhaps of the book as a whole, is that the academy, left to its own devices, will compromise its own liberal universalism unless compelled by external countervailing forces. Also of interest to general readers, including policymakers and journalists.
It is all these things. Rather than claiming that our ways of dealing with the world could change overnight, his point in, for instance, On Certainty Wittgenstein , is that we can hardly make sense of what it would mean for that to happen. The interests of the military and the industrial mindset force the academy to think of truth s in terms of real achievement, rather than as a regulative ideal; in the case of the military, the strategy is to approximate a target; in industry, to accumulate. But that means that we are all implicated in the consequences, good or bad, of our trials and errors. In this rather clever way, he evades those who might otherwise be preoccupied with the source level accuracy of, say, La Nouvelle Heloïse. On this view, an expert is someone who other people rely on to decide certain matters based on his presumed mastery of a coherent body of delimited, dependable, and pertinent knowledge.
The aim of the perpetual revolution for which the university classroom is a fitting scene, he suggests, would be the achievement of a common sense of humanity. Mair argues that politicians have divested themselves of accountability for policy decisions and their consequences, having handed it over to anonymous bureaucrats who cannot be held responsible by discontented voters. One such consequence is the diminished status of expertise, which, he argues, should be seen in sociological terms rather than epistemological ones. But then, he is just selling us a good story, one which he goes to impressive lengths to get us to buy. In part, this may be due to wanting to see itself as simply a discipline apart from the philosophy of science, not one at loggerheads with it. Anyone familiar with the work of Steve Fuller will expect Post-Truth: Knowledge as a Power Game to be original, provocative, and, of course, funny. The exemplary case of the latter is the military-industrial complex.
This is, of course, how politics worked in the Athenian agora that was the birthplace of democracy. One objection that I wish Fuller had taken seriously is the possibility that the neo-Platonists understood Plato correctly. References Open Access This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4. Citing Tocqueville, Mair reminds us that the privileges of the pre-revolutionary French aristocracy fell into disrepute when they no longer reflected genuine societal functions. Fuller begins his story against the backdrop of Brexit, in particular the notion, prevalent among politicians, professionals, and the intelligentsia, that it is an expression of a wider revolt against expertise being waged by anti-intellectuals who privilege ignorance over knowledge and treat all ideas and opinions as equally valid and worthy of consideration.
And who is to be included in the demos? How far should we take the all-affected principle? On this point, Fuller is at one with both Aristotle and Kant: education is training in what to desire. If the academy is serious about promoting the public good, then it should be able to make a convincing case about what academic knowledge can do for those who are sceptical. The aim of the perpetual revolution for which the university classroom is a fitting scene, says Fuller, would be, like other liberal and socialist revolutions, the achievement of a common sense of humanity. He assaults the reader with a number of discomfiting characteristics of peer review, academic gatekeeping at journals and funding agencies, and what all of it tells us about the inclination toward continuity at the expense of risk-taking and therewith the possibility of genuine renewal. But this version of Platonism need be neither fundamentally political nor necessarily mystical. Similarly, argues Fuller, the norms, values, and goals characteristic of the twentieth-century welfare society are giving way to… we know not what. We are ready to accept, indeed commit ourselves to the inevitability, that our present truths will be superseded by other ones otherwise science would not progress, and the whole enterprise would be meaningless.
Getting things wrong is the only way to learn how to set them right. But there are other stories to be told. But insurgencies arise from dissatisfaction; they begin with a willing or wanting. Fuller describes the activities of academic disciplines, professional bodies, and accreditation agencies as different kinds of gatekeeping and boundary work, all of which exists for the purposes of keeping people out rather than letting them in. The argument that ends the chapter, in which Fuller accuses defenders of expertise of epistemic mercantilism, is a master stroke of academic rhetoric.
Readership : Accessible to advanced undergraduates in the humanities and social sciences, including business students. As validators of policies ranging over health, security, the environment, and the economy, scientific elites are in essence the high priests of the secular state. Instead of being led by authorities, people are now taking responsibility for their own decisions regarding what is worth knowing, and assessing the validity of claims to knowledge independently of established authority. Fuller skewers contemporary thinkers who are in denial about the problematic character of institutional truth and wish to occlude or ignore the processes by which it is produced, and who invent philosophical rationalizations for this denial. The cure for what ails us, in his view, is not so much that experts say more than they know, but that we laypeople want to put the burden of responsibility for the consequences of actions taken on the basis of their expertise on their shoulders, which means that they are less inclined to bold conjectures.
Fuller discerns the germ of democratized knowledge in the idea of a logic of justification as central to the scientific spirit. Fallibility is the motor of scientific and social advancement. Rather than see the debate as being between the cognoscenti, on the one hand, and the great unwashed, on the other, Fuller portrays the struggle as one between two forms for political discussion and decision-making: technocracy and rhetoric. The secular State and the scientific methods that issued from the first revolt are themselves under attack, but, importantly, in the same spirit. In this understanding, the political is everywhere and always implicated in the epistemic.
His case is that epistemic justice would seem to entail justice toward knowledge itself, which would mean putting different theories of justice on the table for negotiation with regard to merit, fairness, cost, benefit, etc. This is a readable, bravura performance that develops themes from his earlier writings. The only question is whether more is gained by rapid changes in appearance foxes or by stabilizing one such appearance lions. But it is precisely that sort of assumed dichotomy that the later Wittgenstein vivisects. The upshot is then that the cumulative advantage arising from formal arrangements that ensure perpetual dividends to certain groups, institutions, and individuals should be counteracted. .