Political science and society: in trouble, and rightly so

Political science and society: in trouble, and rightly so

There are embarrassing situations you don’t want or can’t see, problems boil down to a technical aspect, topics that are difficult to deal with: there’s an elephant in the room. In a 2006 exhibition in Los Angeles, artist Banksy installed Room A huge elephant In gold and red with the same theme as the wallpaper to draw attention to the obvious and ignored poverty in the world. There are many “uncomfortable” situations that afflict our daily lives today, at a historical moment in which environmental, cultural and social changes in our planet are many and of a different nature. In Banksy’s metaphor, those in science today who seek to focus and discriminate, and seek those “clear and unequivocal” answers that society demands, cannot be said to be devoid of uncertainty and anxiety. On this basis, the new editorial series was born Scientists in trouble? By CNR Edizioni, sponsored by three researchers, active in environmental issues and problems of science, politics and society, Alba Lastorina, Cristina Mangia and Alessandra Pognetti.

The title illustrates the concern of those who spend themselves in contexts that are inherently very complex and uncertain, such as health or social and environmental issues, but about which it is necessary to make decisions. Even the question mark is intended, to emphasize the subject’s openness to critical comparison and other points of view. But here’s another elephant note, he pachyderm from an Indian tale Cited by philosopher Silvio Vontovic, creator of Post-Natural Science (PNS) – along with Jerome Ravets, also discussed in Science on the net. Five blind men, around an elephant, are trying to guess what they are touching. Each of them forms an idea based on his partial realization: the leg is like a tree, the hose is a snake, the tail is a rope; Only an outside observer can get an accurate idea of ​​the situation. But in the absence of an outside observer, a similar, or at least comparable, result can only be achieved by pooling everyone’s observations, and creating a teamwork.

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The first volume of the series is devoted to postmodern science, Science, politics, and society: a post-ordinary approach in theory and practice, an approach offered when four conditions are met: uncertain facts, the presence of different interests or values ​​of the subjects involved, high stakes and urgent decisions. These are all conditions that make resorting to scientific evidence alone for making decisions or preparing regulatory policies problematic. In front of which elephants and how many elephants do we remain blind today or alternatively can we, together, they are distinguishing features?

When faced with complex problems, multiple perspectives are needed. The volume presents reflections and case studies starting with extended peer communities, realities in which citizens become full producers and reviewers of knowledge. A project to define a landslide risk mitigation plan for a city in remote areas of Campania, for example, presented problematic aspects and divergent interests; A multidisciplinary research team with some residents contributed to the project, which made it possible to focus in addition to the initial solutions on an additional solution, developed on the basis of common priorities, as a compromise. According to the post-normal approach, to a complex problem the quality lies not so much in the truth, which is inherently uncertain, but in the search for a middle ground, obtained through a procedure based on rules accepted by consensus and conducted in a transparent manner. So let’s look not so much at the best solution as at the way to find it.

The reflections continue in the volume by entering into the details of the environmental and health emergency, mainly faced in Italy, that highlighted the urgency of the decisions. The need for education beyond normalcy, practices of sharing and co-creation is then demonstrated. Finally, the political nodes of post-natural sciences are highlighted and major European initiatives where there are references to this approach are called, for example in the European Environment Agency (EEA) or in the Competence Center on Participatory Democracy and the European Commission Decision. The volume brings together the experiences and reflections of more than 50 authors and authors, with two introductory essays and 38 in-depth essays and case studies, in Italian, with language and writing style designed for a wide audience. It can be downloaded for free from the CNR website, herealong with a compendium of all abstracts in English.

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The breathlessness in the title of the series is relieved by the relief we feel when reading the various contributions, the experiences shared by other researchers, and the authoritative testimonies about critical and very current challenges.

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