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Anna Durnová

Durnová’s chapter sketches out the recent research on discourse and deliberation in policy in order to show that emotions represent a crucial point of intersection between the individual and the collective dimensions of discourse and, as such, structure deliberation. Emotions affect the nature of the knowledge at stake in deliberation, they shape the repartition of actors who take part in the process, and they shape the way in which they take part in it.

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Anna Durnová

Post-factual politics has united scientists and civil society in a public defence of truth, however, the battle may already have been lost to a binarity of facts and emotions. Analysing and comparing scientists’ protests against the Trump presidency with famous scientific controversies in modern medicine, this innovative book redefines truth as a negotiation in public discourse between the interplay of values, beliefs and facts. It shows that in order to understand post-factual politics we must unveil emotion’s role in knowledge-making.
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Anna Durnová

This chapter identifies current post-factual politics as a result of the way references to emotions have been placed outside truth production in modern science and politics. As such, they have created a powerful binary of factual knowledge and emotions, which dominates the public discourse on truth. The frequent assertion that we find ourselves in post-factual times implies that at some point in the past there was a time when truth could easily be distinguished from a lie, and a time when it was clear that governing institutions held the truth. This chapter challenges such a view by citing the historical example of the Viennese obstetrician Ignaz Philipp Semmelweis, who made himself unpopular in his day because of his discovery of the origins of childbed fever. While Semmelweis has been often portrayed as a tragic hero who could not achieve his aim because he was ‘too emotional’, viewing this historical anecdote in light of the development of the modern notion of truth as a fact-based and unemotional knowledge enables us to problematize further how truth breaks with accepted path-dependencies and institutional responsibilities and how it becomes negotiated. This paradoxical character of truth – as solid knowledge, while being revolutionary – calls for a subtler analysis of truth’s scenography.

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Anna Durnová

This chapter analyses the first characteristic of truth’s scenography: vexatious knowledge. Breaking with previously accepted knowledge, scientific discoveries make the new knowledge irritating, or even threatening, which raises an emotional dynamic that is nevertheless downplayed by the public presentation of truth. While the public performance of truth by scientists taking part in the March for Science demonstrates such detachment from emotional dynamics, an examination of the irritants and threats surrounding the discovery of AIDS or, once again, the Semmelweis case, shows how this neglect of the role of emotion in truth production disguises the socio-political interdependencies lying behind the alleged truth assertions, and makes it impossible to distinguish actual scientific breakthrough from a fraud that is only staged as such a breakthrough. It thus suggests that, in order to deal with post-factual politics, we need to pay more attention to how emotional appeals to facts are used and mobilized in the public discourse on truth and science.

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Anna Durnová

Partisanship, the second characteristics of truth’s scenography, is a strategy to undermine both truth and science. It has been made possible by the language of neutralization, which has developed as the leading discursive register of science and expertise. Portrayed as detached from emotions, scientists have coproduced a public discourse on science as a neutral enterprise without socio-political consequences. Because of their embrace of this idolatry of neutral science, modern governments - in their efforts to promote debates on facts and data - have referenced emotions as synonymous to partisanship and thus as corrupting to scientific inquiry. However, all knowledge is partisan to the extent that it becomes necessarily embedded in the socio-political order it reacts to, and it coproduces through the knowledge it delivers. The chapter discusses the conflict around the scientists’ participation in the March for Science and focuses on narratives and discourses through which partisanship is placed in the public discourse on science.

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Anna Durnová

This closing chapter suggests paying attention to the particular ways in which emotions are referenced when science and expertise are discussed. Moving from what emotions are, toward what emotions mean in particular discussions, and understanding how they might conceal particular interests, are fundamental in understanding the success of post-factual politics. Referencing emotions as either ‘good’ and ‘useful’, or ‘disturbing’ and ‘irrelevant’, reveals a larger socio-political order that legitimizes some emotions while rejecting others; it also qualifies actors as relevant on the basis of their emotionality. In order to challenge post-factual attacks on science and expertise, we must rehabilitate the role of emotions within science; indeed, saving science from post-factualism might require us to politicize our scientific selves.

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Anna Durnová

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Frank Fischer, Douglas Torgerson, Anna Durnová and Michael Orsini

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Edited by Frank Fischer, Douglas Torgerson, Anna Durnová and Michael Orsini

Critical policy studies, as illustrated in this Handbook, challenges the conventional approaches public policy inquiry. But it offers important innovations as well, in particular its focus on discursive politics, policy argumentation and deliberation, and interpretive modes of analysis.