Toward a Democratic Science (Hardcover)
Scientific Narration and Civic Communication
Yale University Press, 9780300067071, 304pp.
Publication Date: January 21, 1998
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Brown shows why social science knowledge is as much a rhetorical enterprise as is the social reality that it describes. He construes laboratory science, physics, ethnography, sociology, philosophy, and astronomy as genres, narratives, and other rhetorical practices, and thereby portrays science as a special kind of narrative discourse that generates theories and shapes their validity and significance. He next focuses on the political dimensions of science, including the politics of psychology in the United States, showing how power and knowledge shape, limit, and infuse each other. Brown argues that this linguistically and socially constructed character of knowledge does not undermine its truth value but rather reaffirms the moral status and political responsibilities of its practitioners. In one important chapter, written with Robert Brulle, he explores the movement for environmental justice in the United States, showing how ordinary people can use science as part of a larger civic narration. Brown concludes by discussing how the rationality of science can be preserved even as it is subsumed within a rational and moral civic discourse.