Volume 22, 2006
Science, Technology, and Social Justice
Modernity, Science, and Democracy
Thinking about Western sciences has always also meant making assumptions about modernity and about democratic social relations. Yet in recent decades the standard meanings and referents of all three of these terms—”Western sciences,” “modernity,” and “democratic social relations”—have come under skeptical scrutiny. This essay will look at three critics of modernity who also examine the political practices and consequences of Western sciences. All three also think postmodernisms to be valuable but merely symptomologies without useful prescriptions for change, and they all propose specific strategies for transforming modern sciences into ones that are empirically more effective and politically more accountable. These are Bruno Latour, Ulrich Beck, and Ashis Nandy. Yet these otherwise valuable accounts each have serious shortcomings which create obstacles to the intellectual and political success of their projects. Here I focus on one such limitation: their blindness to the gendering of science and of modernity.