Campbell claims that uncertainty does not cause controversy because the content of scientific knowledge is a social construction. Therefore uncertainty is something that is negotiated, discussed and argued about. He further argues that the adequacy of empirical evidence thus becomes a prop in the social negotiations that occur over the credibility of expert statements made in public arenas, where the authority of a scientist as an expert is connected to the image of the relationship between scientific understanding and empirical evidence.
He is attempting to establish five points.
1) uncertainty is a strategic element of argument as opposed to something that causes argument;
2) adequacy of evidence and knowledge is relative and varies with the social situation of experts;
3) the social structuring of expert arguments does not mean that the scientists’ arguments have been ‘distorted’ by the social circumstances of their expertise;
4) uncertainty arguments don’t necessarily undermine the credibility of scientific expert knowledge;
5) the approach that he takes emphasizes the political dynamics of expertise and the complex relationships between scientific and policy issues.
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