Distributed for Boston Review
A wide-raging exploration of the place of uncertainty in our emotional and political lives.
From climate change to the pandemic, uncertainty looms large over our public and personal lives. It is also the core feature of democratic life: while democratic governance seemingly heightens individual power, it exposes our life chances to the uncertain activity of others. We do not exercise control over those to whom we appeal, and yet we are constantly dependent on their actions for the goods in life we seek.
Sheila Jasanoff opens a forum on uncertainty and democracy in this volume, arguing that ideas around our autonomy, our freedom, and our individual agency, particularly in the United States, obscure our dependence on others in so many ways. To recognize this political emotion is to start to see the transformative potential in uncertainty.
The debate that follows explores the ideas about uncertainty and experts in a democracy, as well its scientific, philosophic, and emotional aspects.