Public Knowledge and Its Discontents

Kitcher Philip

in Preludes to Pragmatism

Published in print November 2012 | ISBN: 9780199899555
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780199980154 | DOI:
Public Knowledge and Its Discontents

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This chapter aims to understand the different ways in which public knowledge fails to fulfill the much-needed function of supplying information people can use to pursue their legitimate goals. Public knowledge is easily conceived as a vast depositary, like a gigantic library, to which everyone has access, which supplies answers to the important questions people have, answers information-seekers can recognize as reliable. Life is not quite like that. For the research agendas of the various fields of inquiry do not always address the issues of most concern to members of our species—especially those members who live at a great geographic or economic distance from the places where investigations are done. Many people who need particular types of information do not think that what public knowledge offers is reliable. Finally, much of what “is known” is simply inaccessible to those who might benefit from it. To address these problems, the chapter urges the extension of an ideal of well-ordered science, and offers some tentative suggestions about how we might take first steps in the direction of realizing that ideal.

Keywords: public knowledge; information; science; benefit; well-ordered science

Chapter.  12194 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy

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