Philosophy could help bridge gap between science and policy: Researchers - Hindustan Times

Philosophy could help bridge gap between science and policy: Researchers

May 19, 2024 11:17 AM IST

Philosophy could help bridge gap between science and policy: Researchers

New Delhi, Good evidence-based policy needs to also engage with philosophical questions, a new research work has suggested, adding philosophers might be able to bridge the gap between science and policy.

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According to the study published in the journal Nature Human Behaviour, philosophical expertise can benefit public policy development, especially when dealing with complex problems such as those faced during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Philosophers can help tackle the complexity of problems where there are many interconnected components and a lack of any single optimal solution, said Anne Schwenkenbecher from the School of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences, Murdoch University, Australia.

The team showed that good evidence-based policy needs to engage with philosophical questions.

"We have shown that some of the problems in translating scientific evidence into public policy are philosophical in nature: how much evidence do we need? What evidence do we need and what does that evidence really show? What obligations do policy-makers have to seek and obtain evidence?" said lead author Schwenkenbecher.

The researchers said that the philosophical theory of knowledge, or epistemology, could help with "transparency of reasoning", which involved laying open the process, evidence base and reasons that lead to the adoption of a particular piece of public policy.

"Philosophical expertise can help clarify decision-making and integrate philosophical in particular ethical and epistemological considerations into policy-making when there are challenges with experts coming together from different disciplines, with varying methodologies and unique points of view, like we saw happening in our own country during COVID, as experts sought to find the best policies and solutions as new problems arose," said Schwenkenbecher.

However, despite the benefits, challenges exist in adopting philosophical engagement as a 'standard' in interdisciplinary scientific research, the researchers said.

"First is a challenge of numbers: there are far fewer academic philosophers than scientific researchers. So, not many scientists have had the opportunity to experiment on the best ways to cocreate and/or innovate with philosophical expertise," the authors wrote.

Such circumstances can lead to frictions in collaborations where philosophers are newly invited, they said.

"There is also a challenge of pacing: philosophical argument and the continued back-and-forth that philosophers often use to gain conceptual clarity can feel jarring to scientists. It can be difficult at times to mesh such different methodologies in day-to-day collaboration," the authors wrote.

The challenge was relevant and applicable to any interdisciplinary endeavour, though, they said.

"In an increasingly interdependent world, there is no question that broad interdisciplinarity among the sciences is needed to tackle ambitious problems at the science-policy interface. Expanding that collaboration to include philosophers will reap untold benefits as well," the authors concluded.

This article was generated from an automated news agency feed without modifications to text.

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