Accepted Paper:

"Epistemic participation" - co-creation of legitimate scientific knowledge and policy under the condition of extreme uncertainty  


Werner Reichmann (University of Konstanz)

Paper short abstract:

In this paper, I use the case of economic policy to analyze the epistemic and organizational strategies to co-create legitimate scientific knowledge and legitimate democratic political power under the condition of extreme uncertainty.

Paper long abstract:

Economic forecasters produce scientific knowledge that is special in several respects. The most important one is that their knowledge about the economic <i>future</i> - having in mind that the economy is largely non-ergodic, transmutable, and undetermined (Davidson 1996). The economic future cannot be "known" in conventional ways, it is not accessible empirically, and there are hardly any (known) fixed mechanisms underlying the economic development. The future is totally uncertain. Thus, economic forecasters have to work more to legitimate their knowledge than other scientists.

The extreme uncertainty of the economic future means that being engaged in economic policy is permanently "driving in the fog" (interviewee quote). To legitimate economic policy decisions and acts, policy makers try to base them on scientific knowledge. They use forecasts to do so.

Economic forecasters and economic policy have designed a special strategy of co-creating legitimate scientific knowledge and legitimate political decisions, one I call "epistemic participation" (Reichmann 2013, 2018). Forecasters are embedded in a network together with policy-makers. It is an "epistemic network" as the forecasters want the others to actively co-create the forecasts. In this sense, forecasters give them the opportunity to participate in the epistemic process of forecasting - this is why I call it "epistemic participation".

Drawing on empirical data gathered in German-speaking countries I analyze two questions connected with "epistemic participation": How is "epistemic participation" increasing the social legitimation of uncertain scientific knowledge? What are the democratic problems of the close process of the interactual co-creation of legitimate economic policy?

Panel C21
Co-creation of legitimacy, legitimacy of co-creation - double remedy or double crisis?