Cosmopolitan Knowledge: Climate Science and Global Civic Epistemology

Sheila Jasanoff

in The Oxford Handbook of Climate Change and Society

Published in print August 2011 | ISBN: 9780199566600
Published online January 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Politics & International Relations

 Cosmopolitan Knowledge: Climate Science and Global Civic Epistemology

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This article lays out an analytic framework that explains why consensus building on responses to climate change cannot proceed through the institutions of science alone but requires a more differentiated and more culturally sensitive approach to confronting the climate phenomenon. It begins by placing science itself in a changing historical context, in which the ideal of science as a detached, curiosity-driven inquiry, guided by truthfulness to nature, has gradually yielded to the social reality of sciences that are more problem driven and politically accountable. It then draws on comparative studies of three national science and decision-making cultures (US, UK, and Germany) to show how the credibility of public knowledge claims relates to long-established, culturally situated practices of interpretation and reasoning. It concludes with reflections on the institutional changes that will be needed to build robust cosmopolitan knowledge for collective action on climate change and other global problems.

Keywords: cosmopolitan; cosmopolitanism; global civic epistemology; universalism; cosmopolitan knowledge

Article.  7754 words. 

Subjects: Politics ; Political Theory ; Public Policy

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