Winter 2019 HC 441H: Biology and Politics

Winter Term, 2018-2019

Professor: Gabriel Yospin

4.00 credits

CRN 23391: Tuesday & Thursday, 14:00 – 15:50 @ ANS 193

Scientific information plays a major role in nearly every government policy decision. In many instances, science becomes a part of policy with minimal discussion. At other times, the role of science in policy decisions is controversial. How should scientific information be a part of policy decisions? How should science influence politics? How should politics influence science? How should laws and regulations cope with incomplete or inconclusive science? Is scientific information objective? Apolitical? Neutral? Or is scientific information value-laden, political, and biased? What makes scientific information credible? Who has the standing to speak for Science? What is Science?

This class will provide an opportunity to examine these questions, and further related topics. We will do this through open discussion, where all participants are able to bring their own perspectives on these issues, as well as contemporary events related to the course. There are three phases to this course. First, we will examine acid rain as a case study in the development of a scientific idea and regulatory policy. With this case study in mind, we will then bring together foundational papers in the philosophy of science, sociology of science, and works on science, policy, and politics. Finally, we will attempt to use all of this information to answer questions about what science is, what scientists should do, and the role for science in society.