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Practical integration: The art of balancing values, institutions and knowledge – lessons from the History of British Public Health and Town Planning

De Grandis, G; (2016) Practical integration: The art of balancing values, institutions and knowledge – lessons from the History of British Public Health and Town Planning. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences , 56 (C) pp. 92-105. 10.1016/j.shpsc.2015.10.004. Green open access

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Abstract

The paper uses two historical examples, public health (1840–1880) and town planning (1945–1975) in Britain, to analyse the challenges faced by goal-driven research, an increasingly important trend in science policy, as exemplified by the prominence of calls for addressing Grand Challenges. Two key points are argued. (1) Given that the aim of research addressing social or global problems is to contribute to improving things, this research should include all the steps necessary to bring science and technology to fruition. This need is captured by the idea of practical integration, which brings this type of research under the umbrella of collective practical reason rather than under the aegis of science. Achieving practical integration is difficult for many reasons: the complexity of social needs, the plurality of values at stake, the limitation of our knowledge, the elusive nature of the skills needed to deal with uncertainty, incomplete information and asymmetries of power. Nevertheless, drawing from the lessons of the case studies, it is argued that (2) practical integration needs a proper balance between values, institutions and knowledge: i.e. a combination of mutual support and mutual limitation. Pursuing such a balance provides a flexible strategy for approximating practical integration.

Type: Article
Title: Practical integration: The art of balancing values, institutions and knowledge – lessons from the History of British Public Health and Town Planning
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1016/j.shpsc.2015.10.004
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.shpsc.2015.10.004
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
Keywords: Grand Challenges, Transdisciplinary integration, Science policy, Practical reason, Public health, Town planning
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Engineering Science
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Engineering Science > STEaPP
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10058345
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