Master Class: Sheila Jasanoff, Post-Modern Democracy: Truth and Trust in the Public Sphere

Post-Modern Democracy: Truth and Trust in the Public Sphere

Even before Donald Trump was elected president of the United States in 2016, political commentators began expressing concerns about the decay of truthfulness in the public sphere. How, they asked, could any form of political legitimacy be maintained in a world where there were no agreed upon facts. Among the responses to this dilemma, one that has found widespread favor among liberals and progressives is that scientific consensus must be respected and held apart from politics. In a democracy, so the truism goes, people are entitled to their own opinions but not to their own facts. This analysis, however, is flawed. It is both ahistorical and asymmetrical in relegating public facts to a position outside of politics and society, a move that denies the contingent, constructed, and culturally situated character of truth in the public sphere. This presentation will propose an alternative view based on findings from Science and Technology Studies. The common misconception that recognizing the contingency of facts is equivalent to radical relativism will be discussed and set aside.

Please note: This Master Class is open to graduate students at the University of Toronto. If you’re interested in attending, please contact Space is limited and registration is required.

Sheila Jasanoff
Pforzheimer Professor of Science and Technology Studies

Director, Program on Science, Technology and Society
Harvard Kennedy School

Fri, Sep 29, 2017
12:30 PM - 02:00 PM
Centre for Ethics, University of Toronto
Rm 200, Larkin Building