Liberal Democracy 3.0: Civil Society in an Age of Experts

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SAGE, 2003 M06 16 - 154 pages
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`This is a very fine text, a powerful piece of work that deserves to be read widely. The analysis is truly panoramic. It ranges across central concerns in the fields of social theory, political theory, and science studies and engages with and/or draws upon the ideas of key classical and contemporary thinkers, including Tocqueville, Weber, Schumpeter, Polyani, Habermas, Foucault, Schmitt and Beck' - Barry Smart, Professor of Sociology, University of Portsmouth

What are the political implications of 'expert' knowledge and especially scientific knowledge for liberal democracy? If knowledge is not evenly distributed upon what basis can the philosophy of equal rights be sustained?

This important book points to the crisis in knowledge in liberal democracies. This crisis, simply put, is that most citizens cannot understand, much less judge, the claims scientists make.

One response is the appointment of public commissions to provide conclusions for policy-makers to act upon. There are also `commissions from below', such as grass roots associations that quiz the limits of expert knowledge and power and make rival knowledge claims. Do these commissions represent a new stage in the development of liberal democracy? Or is it merely a pragmatic device of no political consequence.

The central argument of the book is that in a `knowledge society' in which specialized knowledge is increasingly important to politics, more has to be delegated because democratic discussion can't handle it. This limitation in the scope of liberal democracy threatens its fundamental character.

The book will be required reading in the fields of social theory, political theory and science studies.

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Contents

The Last Inequality
18
Is Rational Discourse With
46
The Rise of Knowledge
71
Three Eras of Liberalism
97
The Withering Away of Civil Society?
129
References
144
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Page 147 - Years of the Institute for Research in Social Science at the University of North Carolina (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1980).

About the author (2003)

Stephen Turner is Graduate Research Professor. His Ph.D. is from the University of Missouri. His dissertation, Sociological Explanation as Translation , was published in 1980 by Cambridge . He is the author of a number of books in the history and philosophy of social science and statistics, including books on Max Weber, on whom he also edited the Cambridge Companion volume. He is the co-author of the standard one-volume history of American Sociology, The Impossible Science. He has also written extensively in science studies, especially on patronage and the politics and economics of science, and on the concept of practices, including two books, The Social Theory of Practices and Brains//Practices/ Relativism . His Liberal Democracy 3.0: Civil Society in an Age of Experts, reflects his interest in the problem the political significance of science. Among his other current interests are problems of explaining normativity, especially the conflict between philosophical and social scientific accounts, and issues relating to the implications of cognitive neuroscience for social theory, especially related to the problem of tacit knowledge and mirror neurons. He is also engaged in a large project on the realism of Hans Kelsen and Max Weber and its relevance for contemporary discussions of political theory and law. His most recent book, Explaining the Normative (Polity 2010) is a critique and an alternative to the accounts of “normativity” one finds in philosophers like McDowell, Brandom, Korsgaard, Nagel, and the like. Among his other recent edited books are The SAGE Handbook of Social Science Methodology, with William Outhwaite, and The Routledge International Handbook of Contemporary Social and Political Theory, with Gerard Delanty. He has had fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Swedish Collegium for Advanced Studies in the Social Sciences.

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