Sven-Ove Hansson on “The Role of Science in Politics”

What should the interplay between scientists and policy makers look like? Should it be permitted to base a policy on uncertain knowledge? One of the speakers at this year’s Conference on Foreign Affairs was Sven-Ove Hansson, professor in philosophy at the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, who helped the audience make sense of these questions. This article sums up some of the most important points from his talk.

Scientists and policy makers often look at the world in quite different ways. Policy makers put up guidelines to help achieve certain outcomes while scientists try to find out how things really are.When a policy decision is made on an issue that bears on scientific knowledge, there is a coordination problem between policy makers and scientists: Scientists first gather data, and when there’s enough evidence to draw a certain conclusion, that conclusion becomes part of the corpus – the scientific knowledge which at a given time could be written in a…

by Hampus Ljungberg