Fifth Branch Science Advisers as Policymakers

ISBN-10: 0674300629
ISBN-13: 9780674300620
Edition: 1990
Authors: Sheila Jasanoff
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Description: How can decisionmakers charged with protecting the environment and the public's health and safety steer clear of false and misleading scientific research? Is it possible to give scientists a stronger voice in regulatory processes without yielding  More...

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Book details

List price: $35.00
Copyright year: 1990
Publisher: Harvard University Press
Publication date: 8/19/1998
Binding: Paperback
Pages: 318
Size: 6.25" wide x 9.50" long x 0.75" tall
Weight: 0.946
Language: English

How can decisionmakers charged with protecting the environment and the public's health and safety steer clear of false and misleading scientific research? Is it possible to give scientists a stronger voice in regulatory processes without yielding too much control over policy, and how can this be harmonized with democratic values? These are just some of the many controversial and timely questions that Sheila Jasanoff asks in this study of the way science advisers shape federal policy. In their expanding role as advisers, scientists have emerged as a formidable fifth branch of government. But even though the growing dependence of regulatory agencies on scientific and technical information has granted scientists a greater influence on public policy, opinions differ as to how those contributions should be balanced against other policy concerns. More important, who should define what counts as good science when all scientific claims incorporate social factors and are subject to negotiation? Jasanoff begins by describing some significant failures--such as nitrites, Love Canal, and alar--in administrative and judicial decisionmaking that fed the demand for more peer review of regulatory science. In analyzing the nature of scientific claims and methods used in policy decisions, she draws comparisons with the promises and limitations of peer review in scientific organizations operating outside the regulatory context. The discussion of advisory mechanisms draws on the author's close scrutiny of two highly visible federal agencies--the Environmental Protection Agency and the Food and Drug Administration. Here we see the experts in action as they deliberate on critical issues such as clean air, pesticide regulation, and the safety of pharmaceuticals and food additives. Jasanoff deftly merges legal and institutional analysis with social studies of science and presents a strong case for procedural reforms. In so doing, she articulates a social-construction model that is intended to buttress the effectiveness of the fifth branch.

Rationalizing Politics
The Rise of Social Regulation
Science and Policymaking
Expertise and Trust
The Contingency of Knowledge
The Reform Debate
An Alternative Approach
Flawed Decisions
Nitrites 2,4,5-T Love Canal
Estimates of Occupational Cancer
The Technocratic Response
A Critical Counterpoint
Science for the People
The Rationale for Public Science
The ""New"" Expert Agency Scientific Advice and Open
Government Judicial Review of Science Policy
The Weakening of the Paradigm
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