Science in an Age of (Non)Reason

  • John R. PorterEmail author
  • Bernd Wollenweber
Conference paper


In this chapter, we wish to reflect on some of the issues we see as affecting our work, how we see the ethos of our research institutions changing, the role of science in an age in which ‘experts’ are seen as an unnecessary luxury who stand in the way of popular and populist movements but in which, at the same time, people crave the products invented, developed and produced by such ‘experts’. We take a structured approach that uses the norms of science defined by the social scientist Robert Merton (the so-called Mertonian norms) and examine how each of them is affected by the current climate for science. We also look at some cases—historical and current—to help specify the intrinsic and extrinsic challenges that a reason- and evidence-based approach to knowledge is now facing.


Mertonian norms Scientific freedom and autonomy Evidence-based facts Fake news Skepticism Objectivity 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Supagro MontpellierMontpellierFrance
  2. 2.Institute of AgroecologyAarhus UniversityAarhusDenmark

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