Knowledge and expertise in the contemporary knowlegde society
Course infoSchedule
Course moduleFTR-FIPPSB309
Credits (ECTS)5
Language of instructionEnglish
Offered byRadboud University; Faculty of Philosophy, Theology and Religious Studies; Opleiding Filosofie;
dr. P.C. Lemmens
Other course modules lecturer
dr. P.C. Lemmens
Other course modules lecturer
Contactperson for the course
dr. P.C. Lemmens
Other course modules lecturer
Academic year2020
SEM2  (25/01/2021 to 29/08/2021)
Starting block
Course mode
Registration using OSIRISYes
Course open to students from other facultiesNo
Waiting listNo
Placement procedure-
After following this course, you will be able to:
  • demonstrate knowledge and understanding about 1) the various conceptions and criticisms of what is called the knowledge society from different philosophical and politico-economic perspectives, 2) the constitutive role of technology in knowledge production and the impact of new digital network technologies on the evolution of the knowledge society;
  • analyze and evaluate the effects of digitalization on knowledge production and distribution;
  • identify and critically reflect on the challenges posed by the new emerging planetary condition called the Anthropocene from the perspective of the knowledge society  and digitalization;
  • formulate arguments in favor and against various conceptions of the knowledge society and views on the impact of new digital network technologies on knowledge production and distribution;
  • apply your knowledge about the knowledge society, digitalization and expertise to current societal debates.
In 1979, Jean-François Lyotard published The Postmodern Condition, a famous report on the condition of knowledge in highly developed societies. Since then, the overall trends Lyotard discerned and described, regarding the production and use of knowledge and expertise in contemporary ‘knowledge societies’, have only intensified. These trends maybe be briefly characterized in terms of loss of legitimation, economization and technologization. Having lost its traditional legitimation through grand narratives of progress, the scientific enterprise seems now to be a mere servant of the growth of technological power and efficiency and the optimization of the functioning of global techno-economic systems, where knowledge production is summoned to serve the imperative of ‘innovation’, disregarding any finality beyond the increase in power. Furthermore, knowledge has become the principal factor of production and thus a crucial commodity, implying an increased emphasis on its exchange value to the detriment of its use value or intrinsic value and substituting the scientific criterion of ‘truth’ for the technological one of ‘efficiency’. Finally, the global implementation of digital and networked information and communication technologies has completely transformed the conditions under which knowledge is produced, transmitted and elaborated. The change has also profoundly affected educational procedures as well as the relation of knowledge institutions such as the university with the society at large.
In this course we will look at the ways in which these trends have been developing over the last four decades, with a specific focus on what the new digital condition implies for research, education and expertise in science and for scientific rationality as such, addressing both its problematic disruptive nature, particularly as tied to both a collapsing politico-economic order and a faltering Earth System, and its potentials for a new epistemic and economic regime capable of dealing with the emerging planetary crisis. In so doing it will provide a critical perspective, informed by the most recent philosophical literature on the relation between science, economy and society, on both the politico-economic as well as the (info-)technological backdrop of the scientific enterprise and the science-society nexus in the 21st century

Presumed foreknowledge
Introductory knowledge philosophy
Test information
Final essay and in-class presentations
This course is part of a three course module in the Philosophy, Politics and Society bachelor programme. Students can only be admitted if they also take the two associated courses during the same semester (retakes excluded). Students who are NOT enrolled in a bachelor, master, or exchange programme of the Faculty of Philosophy, Theology and Religious studies or in a bachelor programme of the Faculty of Arts cannot register directly for PPS modules. Instead, they can apply for admission by sending an e-mail to Such applications must contain a separate document in which you (1) inform us about your current studies, (2) explain which module you want to take and why it is relevant to your studies, and (3) describe what you bring to the classroom. The document must be written in English.
Instructional modes
Lecture and seminar

Test weight1
Test typePaper
OpportunitiesBlock SEM2, Block SEM2