189A | CCN: 32905

Special Topics in Rhetoric

Science and Public

Instructor: Nasser Zakariya,

4 Units

T/TH 9:30-11:00am, 222 Wheeler

Science in public takes different shapes. It is defended as universal knowledge essential to human persistence and human thriving. It is critiqued as a particular knowledge that looks to ground itself, failing to take stock of the historical and social conditions that impose on its claims and ambitions. It is, lastly, dismissed or vilified as false or even fake. How then does modern science relate to social and political values? Can scientific facts simply be independent of these values? Should they be independent? If scientific knowledge is often esoteric, yet crucial to social welfare and to political and environmental futures, how should publics relate to that knowledge? In what ways are the sciences themselves constitutive of modern publics and republics? Should publics decide not only on the value of scientific projects, but on the truth of scientific claims? Through historical and contemporary case-studies and analyses, this course seeks to approach, investigate and refine these questions. Topics include: scientific expertise in public policy and law; facts/value distinctions; public v. private science; scientific and legal constructions and determinations of human difference; scientific republics; science and social responsibility.

 

***This course counts toward the Public Discourse concentration.