Science for the post-normal age

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Silvio O. Funtowicz, Jerome R. Ravetz
Futures 25(7), pages 739–755

In response to the challenges of policy issues of risk and the environment, a new type of science – ‘post-normal’ – is emerging. This is analysed in contrast to traditional problem-solving strategies, including core science, applied science, and professional consultancy. We use the two attributes of systems uncertainties and decision stakes to distinguish among these. Postnormal science is appropriate when either attribute is high; then the traditional methodologies are ineffective. In those circumstances, the quality assurance of scientific inputs to the policy process requires an ‘extended peer community’, consisting of all those with a stake in the dialogue on the issue. Post-normal science can provide a path to the democratization of science, and also a response to the current tendencies to post-modernity.