Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS


The extreme uncertainty of the methods used to address the disturbed global environment limits the application of traditional scientific methodologies to current problems. The use of computer models, which are inherently untestable but still are the best tools available, illustrates the dilemma with modern methods. A simple diagram based on two attributes, "decisions stakes" and "systems uncertainties" is used to illustrate a threefold classification of kinds of science. First is the applied science reminiscent of Kuhnian puzzle-solving; second is professional consultancy; and third is second order science, characteristic of the new sciences of cleanup and survival. For second order science, facts are uncertain, values in dispute, stakes high and decisions urgent. Such sciences are important when, paradoxically, "hard" policy decisions depend on "soft" scientific inputs. A new methodology for second order science will require "extended peer communities", because quality assurance requires participants outside the classic peer communities of experts, including investigative journalists and laypersons. Similarly, " extended facts" will be relevant, such as evidence that is initially anecdotal or information that is restricted to the public. By these extensions, second order science can lead to greater democracy in the scientific endeavour, complementary to the diffusion of science by traditional popularisation.

Additional information

Authors: FUNTOWICZ S O, JRC Ispra (IT);RAVETZ J R, The Research Methods Consultancy, London (GB)
Bibliographic Reference: Extract: Ecological Economics: The Science and Management of Sustainability (1991)
Availability: Columbia University Press, New York (US)
Record Number: 199110760 / Last updated on: 1994-12-02
Original language: en
Available languages: en