Public Reason

The theme of public reason runs through almost all of my work, as explained in the introduction to my 2012 essay collection, Science and Public Reason. I have tried to understand how ruling institutions justify exercises of power and authority in contemporary democracies, and how their practices of argumentation, delegation, and transparency are shaped by commitments to particular ways of knowing (civic epistemologies), visions of progress (sociotechnical imaginaries), styles of reasoning, and ideas of adequate representation (bioconstitutionalism). In my empirical studies, I frequently ask what makes exercises in public reason succeed or fail. The following texts look at the construction and uptake of public reason, and associated constructions of experts and lay publics:

  • “A Century of Reason: Experts and Citizens in the Administrative State,” in S. Engels and S. Skowronek, eds., The Progressives Century (New Haven: Yale University Press, forthcoming).
  • Constitutional Moments in Governing Science and Technology,” Science and Engineering Ethics 17(4):621-638 (2011).
  • “The Politics of Public Reason,” in P. Baert and F.D. Rubio, eds., The Politics of Knowledge (Abingdon: Routledge, 2011), pp. 11-32.
  • The Practices of Objectivity in Regulatory Science,” in C. Camic, N. Gross, and M. Lamont, eds., Social Knowledge in the Making (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2011), pp. 307-337.