Science and technology are powerful modern institutions, and they are social endeavours, undertaken and often contested by different groups of people in different historical, cultural, political, and geographical contexts. These social underpinnings are the subject of this course. What does it mean to say scientific knowledge is socially constructed? How does science relate to social and political values? Can scientific facts simply be independent of these values? Should they be independent? Scientific knowledge is often difficult to understand without years of training, and yet this knowledge is crucial to social welfare and to political and environmental futures. So how should publics relate to scientific knowledge? We investigate sociological and ethical issues related to modern science, technology, and medicine, and we develop different approaches to thinking critically about what it means to live in a society so profoundly bound up with the methods and results of the long historical process of scientific knowledge-making. Topics include scientific expertise in public policy and law; fact/value distinctions; industrial science; human/non-human animals and recent biomedical challenges to human self-understandings; scientific and legal constructions of human difference; and recent global challenges that are both social and scientific in nature, in particular environmental change.
2 X 1 hour lecture PLUS 1 X 1 hour tutorial per week and an online component.
short essay (15%), final essay (30%), presentation (15%), quizzes (20%), classroom and online tutorial participation (20%)
Students should be familiar will introductory material in Philosophy of Science, Ethics or Sociology.