‘Science and the Citizen’ was the theme of this year’s EFC conference. ‘Foundations can and must play a role in ensuring that citizens understand the ramifications of scientific advancement,’ says the conference programme. ‘Public involvement is the key to democratic society,’ said EFC Chair Luc Tayart de Borms in the opening plenary. But many speakers questioned the assumptions that seem to lie behind this agenda. ‘Is science really the genie that has got out of the bottle?’ asked Yehuda Elkana, president of the Central European University.
Who owns science? Who controls it? How do we see to it that it is put under proper democratic control? These questions suggest that science is dangerous, a Frankenstein field with scary social and moral implications. This isn’t really the issue, Elkana suggested.