Protecting the Legitimacy of Science in World Politics

The Global

By Peter M. Haas
Professor, Department of Political Science
UMASS Amherst

Organized science’s role in global governance is under attack in the USA, UK and at the UN from climate denialists and other groups who fear the regulatory consequences of relying on scientists and experts. Yet it can be defended through debates which invoke broader justifications for the utility and legitimacy of science than used by the critics of science. Through rhetoric and careful debate the political authority of science in global governance may be defended.

Organized science enjoys ongoing legitimacy in global governance as a privileged source of expertise used to attenuate uncertainty for decision makers. Until recently the reliance on science as a source of technical advice had become an institutionalized social fact. Scientists and politicians continue to speak of the need for scientific governance for making sound policy decisions.

Indeed, science and expertise have contributed to many…

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