Saturday, 9 August 2008

Transgenes and Transgressions: Scientific Dissent as Heterogeneous Practice

I'm posting this reference here in case it can eventually set a context for Steve Fuller's principled support for Intelligent Design. Even if these specific ideal types do not feature in the forthcoming interview, I would like to follow up on Delborne's work to consider their ramifications some other time for social epistemology.
Social Studies of Science, Vol. 38, No. 4, 509-541 (2008)
© 2008 SAGE Publications
Transgenes and Transgressions: Scientific Dissent as Heterogeneous Practice
Jason A. Delborne
Division of Liberal AAs and International Studies, 301 Stratton Hall, 1005 14th Street, Golden, CO 80401, USA,

Although scholars in science and technology studies have explored many dynamics and consequences of scientific controversy, no coherent theory of scientific dissent has emerged. This paper proposes the elements of such a framework, based on understanding scientific dissent as a set of heterogeneous practices. I use the controversy over the presence of transgenic DNA in Mexican maize in the early 2000s to point to a processual model of scientific dissent. `Contrarian science' includes knowledge claims that challenge the dominant scientific trajectory, but need not necessarily lead to dissent. `Impedance' represents efforts to undermine the credibility of contrarian science (or contrarian scientists) and may originate within or outside of the scientific community. In the face of impedance, contrarian scientists may become dissenters. The actions of the scientist at the center of the case study, Professor Ignacio Chapela of the University of California, Berkeley, demonstrate particular practices of scientific dissent, ranging from `agonistic engagement' to `dissident science'. These practices speak not only to functional strategies of winning scientific debate, but also to attempts to reconfigure relations among scientists, publics, institutions, and politics that order knowledge production.

Key Words: agricultural biotechnology • contrarian science • dissident science • genetically modified crops • transgene flow

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