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Rationality and Ritual revisited: a quarter-century of realist mist and constructivist fog

Date: 2 May 2006 Time: 13.00-12.00pm

Venue: Furness Lecture Theatre 3

Abstract: In 1981(so 25 years ago this year), I published an obscure book with the British Society for the History of Science, called 'Rationality and Ritual: The Windscale Inquiry and Nuclear Decisions in Britain', about the 1977 Windscale THORP nuclear public inquiry. This is to be commercially republished by Earthscan later this year.

Within this session I will discuss my thoughts around the updated review essay I am completing to accompany this new edition. After summarising the use of realist forms of SSK constructivism in a major public arena, and the way this kind of perspective has been persistently taken as anti-realist, or closet-realist, I will play with the same kind of analysis of other more recent public conflicts with scientific dimensions, like the GM crops and foods issue, and ask how relevant this analysis of scientific rationality as public ritual remains in today's context.

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Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
Lancaster University
Lancaster LA1 4YD
United Kingdom

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