"Facts and Values: How Does Science Inform Democracy?"
(Ohio State, Psychology/Decisions Sciences Collaborative)
(Ohio State, Philosophy/Center for Ethics and Human Values)
A crucial issue underlying public debates about sustainability concerns how scientific information is taken up by citizens and then represented within democratic deliberation. A series of influential studies in psychology have suggested that individuals’ political commitments significantly affect how they process scientific findings and accommodate them within their belief systems. What exactly do these findings show and to what extent do they threaten the prospects for informed public deliberation about the challenges facing our democracy in the 21st century, including sustainability and climate change?
Ohio State is home to two of the world’s leading researchers on these questions: Ellen Peters and Michael Neblo. Prof. Peters is the Director of Ohio State’s Decision Sciences Collaborative. In a series of significant articles, she has addressed a wide range of factors affecting complex decision-making processes, including the significance of numeracy and the role of emotions in our judgments. In his work, Prof. Neblo defends the possibility of effective democratic deliberation against theoretical and empirical challenges. He sets out his positive vision of deliberative democracy in his forthcoming book, Common Voices: Between the Theory & Practice of Deliberative Democracy.