Accepted Paper:

Latour on Politics: Political turn in epistemology or Ontological turn in politics?  


Noemí Sanz Merino (University of Balearic Islands)

Paper short abstract:

Some authors sustain that Latour’s shift implies two considerations about politics whose simultaneous maintenance is problematic. I argue that both are coherent within the development of the same project to attend to sociotechnical practices, while they are not with a political turn in epistemology

Paper long abstract:

According to several authors, the shift of Latour's attention to politics during the last decade is the result of his proposing a different conception about "politics" that implies, with respect to Latour's overall project, one of two situations: or his epistemological proposal has suffered a "normative turn" -which necessarily breaks with his previous Actor-Network Theory's proposals on what is considered good science-; or, otherwise, if the political implications of technoscience stated before remain valid, this limits the contribution of his current political epistemology to the construction of a more democratic science.

In this paper, I will argue there has not been a change in Latour's epistemological basis nor a lack of coherence within his thought that would undermine the democratic potential of his political epistemology.

I will show that this critique is the product of an erroneous interpretation of his own concepts about "politics". In this sense, the Latour's conceptions are being valued from what can be called the "Political Turn" in epistemology, which is proper of a Modern metaphysical view on epistemology as well as on politics.

Finally, I will argue that this shift can be interpreted, rather, as being coherent with Latour's defence of what I call the "Ontological Turn". The difference is a shift to the author's ontological and epistemological focus from technoscience to political action. We can interpret his work as the development of a wider project to attend to the socio-technical practices, which implies diverse roles and responsibilities for the analyst.

Panel T023
Science Is Politics by Other Means Revisited