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Environmental problems, post-normal science, and extended peer communities

Abstract : The new environmental problems have common features that distinguish them {rom traditional scientific problems: facts are uncertain, values in dispute, stakes high and decisions urgent. For these new problems science usually cannot provide well-founded theories, based on experiments, for explanation and prediction; therefore environmental issues present new tasks for science. We range scientific problem-solving strategies on a biaxial diagram which exhibits them in terms of the two attributes of "system uncertainties" and "decision stakes"; the situation of post-normal science is one where both attributes are highest; here we find decisions with high stakes, for which the scientific inputs are irremediably uncertain. In these conditions the essential functions of quality assurance and critical assessment can no longer be completely performed by a restricted corps of insiders. The dialogue on quality, along with that on policy, must be extended to all those with a stake in an issue; these we call "the extended peer community". The task is to see what sorts of changes in the practice of science and in its institutions will be entailed by recognition of uncertainty, complexity and quality within policyrelevant research.
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  • HAL Id : hal-01231607, version 1


S. Funtowicz, J. Ravetz. Environmental problems, post-normal science, and extended peer communities. Études et Recherches sur les Systèmes Agraires et le Développement, INRA Editions, 1997, pp.169-175. ⟨hal-01231607⟩



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