Nicolas Kønig, Claus Emmeche and Tom Børsen have established the so-called Post-normal library consiting of 374 postnormal science (PNS) publications. By searching the library we see that PNS and ethics as a topic that has gain little - and in our oppinion too little — attention by the extended postnormal science family.

Hence, we now launch a book project called “postnormal science and ethics”.
It was only recently suggested by Cristiano Codagnone at the PNS4 symposium in Barcelona to add a third axis, entitled ’ethics’, to the postnormal science diagram.

The additional new axis is: value conflict versus value consensus. It presupposes an ethical stance. The other two axes are in line with PNS definitions: 1st stakes are high -- in Codagone’s model the presence or absence of institutional and strategic interest; and 2nd facts uncertain, in Codagone’s model: high or low epistemic uncertainty

Three out the four central characteristics of postnormal science are now covered in the extended postnormal science diagram: "facts [are] uncertain, values in dispute, stakes high and decisions urgent". Now only urgency is not represented by an axis in the extended postnormal science diagram.

As part of the digital journey to 2021 PNS Symposium in Florence we would like to discuss how should we interpret the ethics axis in the extended PNS diagram. Hence, this is the topic to be discussed in a digital seminar and a resulting book we endeavor to edit. We are currently looking for a publisher, and
we would like you to consider contributing to the seminar and the book.

The discussions at the seminar and in the book will address how postnormal science can embrace ethics:
• Should postnormal science map stakeholders ethical values and concerns? This is an endeavor that can be supported by the ethical matrix.
• Should researchers guided by postnormal science facilitate participatory ethical consultations or technology assessments? In this way postnormal science could help ethical issues to become debatable in society (PNS as a mediator of process).
• To what extent should postnormal science be normative and 'activist' as a prerequisite to be meaningful for society?

Why an ethical perspective on Post-Normal Science?

We know social challenges such as dealing with climate change and environmental pollution are complex challenges that need to take into account factual uncertainty and often conflicting value-based opinions. Especially for the area of public health, we have to realise that, in our contemporary society, living with low doses of fine dust, pesticides, food preservatives, trans-fats, hormone additives, radioactivity, electromagnetic radiation, and so on… is living with the scientific uncertainty troubling the understanding and prediction of their true health effects.

Experts who advice policy have to cope with multiple uncertainties and value-based opinions on what to do while being under pressure by politics, the public and the market to deliver evidence they cannot always deliver. And, obviously, the recent Covid-19 pandemic has put that challenge in even sharper contrast.

The way out is not only better models and calculations in the interest of better predictions but in the first place a different approach to science as policy advice based on ethical and holistic thinking, transdiscipinarity and public participation. In that sense, post-normal science can function and serve as a mediator of process at the science-policy interface in the way it can help to build trust by facilitating an ethical dialogue that starts with recognizing and embracing these factual uncertainties and value-based opinions in the first place.

Practical information

In addition the two of us – Tom Børsen and Gaston Meskens -- the following central figures within PNS have agreed to contribute to the project:
Angela Pereira, Dorothy Dankel, Silvio Funtowicz, Jerry Ravetz and Cristiano Codagnone.

We invite you to partake in a zoom seminar where ideas for the contributions to the book will be introduced and discussed. The Zoom seminar will take place on Thursday, November 19 2020 from 14:00 to 16:00 CET. If interested, please send us a message to

Tom Børsen and Gaston Meskens.
Effektiv start/slut dato21/09/202030/09/2021


Udforsk forskningsemnerne, som dette projekt berører. Disse etiketter er oprettet på grundlag af de underliggende bevillinger/legater. Sammen danner de et unikt fingerprint.