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Led by the Science

King, M. (2020) Led by the Science. In: Heidingsfelder, M. and Lehmann, M. (eds.) Corona. Weltgesellschaft im Ausnahmezustand? Velbrück Wissenschaft, Weilerswist, Germany, pp. 127-139, 364. ISBN 9783958322370

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Society looks to a combination of the natural and social sciences for knowledge and advice on how to limit the damage caused by CV-19 and eventually to restore normal life for millions of people. While this chapter does not directly challenge the expectation that such help will be forthcoming, it refers to Niklas Luhmann’s theory of knowledge and the differentiated nature of modern society to raise difficult questions about the ways in which the political system, in particular, conceives of and uses science to further its own objectives. In doing so, it takes examples from the UK Government’s handling of the coronavirus crisis. It examines in particular the notion of risk and the way that pre-existing social practices of risk assessment and management are now applied to losses associated with the pandemic. It distinguishes between risks and dangers with risks being seen as the consequences of decisions. The persuasive power of associating numerical calculations with risk and the scope for misleading predictions and explanations are also considered. Finally, the chapter draws attention to Luhmann’s warning of the serious problems, inherent in risk-assessments and risk-decisions, caused by society’s conceptualization of time and the need for devices that will serve to bind time, that is to make visible in the present, the past and the future and to understand the relation between these in meaningful ways.

Item Type:Book or Report Section
Divisions:Arts, Humanities and Social Science > School of Law
ID Code:95412
Publisher:Velbrück Wissenschaft

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