Whats really behind the rise of citizen science? There are a few distinct trends and agendas at work. One is the obvious groundswell of hostility to experts spreading throughout the Western world.
The warm glow surrounding citizen science comes from an Enlightenment belief in some inner thirst to know things, a drive in each of us to acquire bits of knowledge. But the tendency to reify information into blocks of fungible stuff tends to mask peoples real motives. Someone suffering from asthma might like to know if there is excess ozone in her environment; but she might not necessarily care to learn about the chemical composition of ozone or the physiological mechanisms of broncho-provocation in the lungs. In a way, citizen science is an attempt to displace peoples concerns onto a different epistemic plane: from the domain in which people are interested in their personal safety, or the implications of environmental changes, to one in which they are meant to be concerned about supposedly scientific matters.
Citizen science, Id argue, is not structured to produce real knowledge. Rather, its about rejigging power relations.
Reasonable disagreement about morality presents educators with a problem. It is hard to see how we can bring it about that children subscribe to moral standards, and believe them to be justified, except by giving them some form of moral education. But it is also hard to see how moral educators can legitimately cultivate these attitudes in the face of reasonable disagreement about the content and justification of morality.
The justificatory argument rests on two claims. The first is that all human beings, or at least all human beings living alongside others in social groups, are unavoidably confronted with a serious practical problem: what David Copp in 2009 called the problem of sociality. The second is that human beings can effectively ameliorate this problem by holding themselves and each other to some basic standards of conduct.
So, while we are often motivated directly by sympathy and self-interest to cooperate with each other and refrain from harming each other, these motives are not sufficient to the task of sustaining cooperation and averting conflict.
The problem of sociality arises because of three contingent but permanent features of the human condition. These features, sometimes described as the circumstances of justice, are (i) rough equality, (ii) limited sympathy and (iii) moderate scarcity of resources. Discussions of these features or circumstances are to be found in the writings of many philosophers, including Thomas Hobbess Leviathan (1651), David Humes A Treatise of Human Nature (1739), H L A Harts The Concept of Law (1961), G J Warnocks The Object of Morality (1971), John Rawlss A Theory of Justice (1971) and J L Mackies Ethics (1977).
It draws strength from a certain brand of market fundamentalism a political sensibility we might also call neoliberalism in which peoples beliefs about science are simply transactions in a marketplace of ideas, as unassailable as their choice of soap-powder at the supermarket.
Now, if it were just a matter of recruiting people to do the gruntwork, and have the experts check and follow up, such knowledge wouldnt really matter; but that is not at all how citizen science is sold. All movements to make citizens behave more like scientists embody a baneful internal contradiction: if the participants were at all serious, they would have to undergo real training, not a drive-by blast of methodology lite. But in that case, by definition, it would no longer be citizen science.
But citizen science evangelists claim to have higher goals. Whats missing is any discussion of whose interests its really serving.
讀完：March 23, 2018 at 02:11AM｜來源：URL