In their expanding roles as advisers, scientists have emerged as a fifth branch of government. But even though the growing dependence of regulatory agencies on scientific and technical information has granted scientists a greater influence on public policy, opinions differ as to how those contributions should be balanced against other policy concerns. Merging legal and institutional analysis with social studies of science, Jasaff presents a strong case for procedural reforms. In so doing, she articulates a social-construction model that is intended to buttress the effectiveness of the fifth branch.
Sheila Jasanoff is Pforzheimer Professor of Science and Technology Studies at the Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University.