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Books, Journals, New Media
August 14, 2002

Science: Science, Truth, and Democracy

Author Affiliations

Harriet S.MeyerMD, Contributing EditorDavid H.MorseMS, Journal Review EditorRobertHoganMD, adviser for new media


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JAMA. 2002;288(6):769-770. doi:10.1001/jama.288.6.769-JBK0814-3-1

In his provocative book Science, Truth, and Democracy, Philip Kitcher examines the proper relationship between science and values in a democratic society. Writing on the role of science in society tends to rely on one of two mistaken notions. Science is viewed as a cumulative, progressive march away from error or ignorance and toward enlightenment predicated on the assumption that the study of nature is intrinsically liberating, produces practical benefits, and is one of humanity's greatest achievements. Or, science is viewed as merely another locus of social and political struggle—the putative march toward enlightenment is merely a fig leaf covering the otherwise naked interests of the ruling class, race, or gender. Both misconceptions deflect or paralyze critical reflection on the role of science in society.