UCL Department of Science and Technology Studies is an interdisciplinary centre for the integrated study of science's history, philosophy, sociology, communication and policy, located in the heart of London. Founded in 1921. Award winning for teaching and research, plus for our public engagement programme. Rated as outstanding by students at every level.

At UCL, the academic mission is paramount. Our ambition is to achieve the highest standards in our teaching and research.

Join us for BSc, MSc, and PhD study.

Staff books include:

Gregory - Plato's Timaeus spacerAthena Swan Bronze Award


Archive of events calendar

<< 2011 Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec 2013 >>

PUS Seminar: Alfred Moore

Start: Jun 20, 2012 4:15:00 PM
End: Jun 20, 2012 6:00:00 PM

Abstract: Expert authority, it is often thought, is undermined by criticism, dissent and contestation from lay people. I will question this view by suggesting a strong parallel between expert and political authority. In this paper I aim to specify the democratic potentials of public contestation of expertise through the concept of 'epistemic disobedience'. I define epistemic disobedience as organized minorities refusing to accept expert claims to authority. The paper will have two main parts. First I will discuss what I mean by ‘expert claims to authority’, ‘refusing to accept’, and ‘organised minorities’ - a term I take from Hannah Arendt’s discussion of civil disobedience. I will do this in reference to the case of resistance to UK immunisation policy in the wake of a public controversy over the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine. This case, I suggest, embodies some of the key features of epistemic disobedience, and it also enables me to locate my perspective against the various interpretations of this case. In the second part of the paper I will discuss the democratic value of epistemic disobedience. Of course, research in public understanding of science has long established that public contestation of science and expertise often encompasses much broader issues and commitments than a narrow technical framing admits - and this is borne out in various analyses of the vaccine controversy. What the concept of epistemic disobedience adds to this discussion and brings into sharper focus is the way in which such contestation can actually be constitutive of democratic practices of expert authority. I will elaborate this point with reference to the relation between civil disobedience and the legitimation of political authority. Taking inspiration from Pierre Rosanvallon, I will conclude by suggesting that epistemic disobedience is just one example of the many forms of 'organised mistrust' that make up a 'counter-democracy' of science.

Film: Valley of Gwangi (1969)

Start: Jun 20, 2012 6:30:00 PM

[broken image] Another Film Night at the Grant Museum.

Integrated HPS Workshop

Start: Jun 28, 2012 12:45:00 PM
End: Jun 29, 2012 2:30:00 PM

UCL will be hosting 7th annual UK Integrated HPS workshop this June.
<< 2011 Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec 2013 >>

UCL Department of Science and Technology Studies (STS)
0207 679 1328 office | +44 207 679 1328 international
sts@ucl.ac.uk | www.ucl.ac.uk/sts | @stsucl
postal address:  Gower Street, London, WC1E 6BT | United Kingdom
street address: 22 Gordon Square, London, WC1E 6BT | maps