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Science and Society

Coordinator: C. Lüthy
Prerequisites and accessibility: https://www.ru.nl/courseguides/fftr/bachelor-pps/access-pps-courses-modules/
Period: Semester 2, period 3 and 4


Since the Scientific Revolution of the seventeenth century, and even more clearly since the Industrial Revolution of the nineteenth, our lifestyles have become shaped and defined by science and its products. These products of science can be tangible objects like airplanes, television sets, deep-freeze food or personal computers, they can be infrastructures like hospitals, power networks and universities, or they can be values such as expertise, knowledge and technical know-how.

This module will focus above all on the last-named aspect: knowledge and expertise. We will try to understand, from historical and systematic perspectives, what ‘knowledge’ actually involves. What are ‘facts’? What does it mean to be an ‘expert’? These questions are politically charged, in a day and age where so-called ‘knowledge societies’ race for a competitive advantage, while a large portion of the citizenry seems to think that science is just an opinion'. How must we analyse the interaction between society and science in a postmodernist age? And, in the end, "Why Trust Science?," to cite the title of the book by Naomi Oreskes, which stands central in one of our courses?

Period Course Course ID Credits
3 & 4 How the modern knowledge society came about FTR-FIPPSB308 5
3 & 4 Knowledge and expertise in the contemporary knowledge society FTR-FIPPSB309 5
3 & 4 Why trust science FTR-FIPPSB310 5
Module code: FTR-MI-FI118-20