No one ideal for values in science will suffice. We need nested ideals, articulated for individual actors, for communal practices, and for science-society interfaces, in order to ground the authority of science.
The authority of science rests on the interlocking character of these norms. At the communal level, scientists are expected to continually question and critique each other’s work. They are expected to respond to criticisms raised, and to hold no scientific claim above criticism. Such mutual critique is a minimum for granting science prima facie epistemic authority. The more diverse and reflective of the plurality of society the scientific community is, the more taken for granted assumptions and unreflected value commitments will (hopefully) be elucidated, the more authority science should have.
But community practices need good individual reasoning practices to operate with. Maintaining the proper roles for values in science keeps values from acting in place of evidence, which will support the critical interactions needed in science. New evidence should always be able to contest old positions, and this can only happen if values are not used to protect desired positions from unwanted criticism. A scientist can point to their values to argue for why they require more evidence to be convinced, but they can never point to their values to argue for why evidence is irrelevant to the claims they make or protect. Asking for more evidence drives the inquiry dialectic; holding claims above evidential critique does not.
Further, it is not just in individual reasoning integrity (right roles) and communal practices, but in some shared values (operating within proper roles) that science gains its authority in a democratic society. I will discuss this more in the next two lectures, but for now, note that getting the values right, particularly in the realm of policy relevant science, strongly supports scientific authority. That scientists are investigating questions we care about, using methodologies that we find morally acceptable and targeted at what we are concerned with, and using values we share for assessing evidential sufficiency, can and should make a big difference for what we think is epistemically authoritative. Thus, elucidating the proper roles and proper values for science is part of what makes science authoritative, rather than undermining the authority of science.
Finally, the authority of science also rests on its raw instrumental success. Relying upon scientific understandings of disease (e.g. in the cases of communicable diseases) has greatly increased lifespans, relying upon scientific understandings of materials has greatly increased the range of what we can manufacture, relying upon scientific understandings of what we can transmit in the air has transformed communication, and so forth. It is this raw instrumental success that is probably at the root of most of the trust society places in science. But, as we will see in the next lecture, we are running into areas of science where success is not easily measured, especially in the short term, and the problems we are addressing seem more interrelated than ever. The challenge of science in democracy is still with us.--Heather Douglas (September 2016) "Descartes Lecture 1: Opening Statement: Why Science, Values, and Democracy?" [quoted with permission.]
Hannah Arendt notes that authority is neither the compelling of another by persuasion nor the compelling of another by physical/legal force (see her (1954) "What is authority?) Rather, it's the kind of rule that generates obedience, which is naturally associated with child-rearing and the Church. In both force and persuasion are available, of course, but neither relies exclusively nor primarily on force and persuasion. (This is not to deny the many legal, normative, and social differences between the authority of parents and churches.) When one thinks of the authority of science(s) and scientific experts in terms of (Kuhnian) hegemonic paradigms, then speaking of the "authority of science" or "scientific authority" is a natural way to talk if we think of Church authority. As is well known, there are many natural resonances between conceiving of the functioning of scientific paradigms and Church history. The connection is not merely historical-cultural; as I noted Koyré was himself both a great historian of religion and a key influence on Kuhn.
Somewhat surprisingly, Arendt does not discuss the authority of science in her essay. It is surprising because science is mentioned in her essay and it is treated as a cause in the undermining of traditional forms of authority (associated with the Church, educators, and parents). [It is notable that Arendt is writing this already in the 50s and not in the late 60s as I assumed before I looked up the date.] In Arendt's hands social science paradigmatically offers functional explanations of social phenomena and institutions and, in so doing, deflates their pretensions. Now, science can do so -- analyze and deflate -- because its deliverances have some authority over our minds. To resist some such functional explanations (and the unmasking that follows it), is to resist being reasonable in a certain sense, that is, one comes across as being unreasonable. (I say 'in a certain sense' because, to be sure, Arendt is a critic of such functional-focused social science.) But, of course, both 'Frankfurt' and Foucault offered functional explanations of science's authority and this did undermine it (alongside moral and political disasters consequent -- e.g., eugenics, Hiroshima, etc. social planning, financial bubbles, etc. -- of the authority of science).
As an aside, the rise of methodological individualism pushed back at the authority of functional explanations even among Marxists (recall this post on Elster), and while controversy has not been eliminated, science's authority has survived in many ways such that we often trust some or the consensus of experts and act accordingly. (Of course, different sciences have different authority.)* think functional explanation in social science are ripe for a come-back thanks to Dennett's distinction between doing things for reasons and having reasons for doing things. But that's for a different day.
Heather Douglas is committed to the (normative) idea(l) that within science no authority is to be used to prevent new evidence from having a hearing (it "should always be able to contest old positions, and this can only happen if values are not used to protect desired positions from unwanted criticism"). But in science's relationship with society, she thinks that science can have authority (based in part on its track record "instrumental success").
As the quoted passage reveals, by "authority," Douglas means to convey a certain kind of "trust" not obedience. This distinction matters because Douglas's wishes to promote a conception of science in which science engages in conversation with the public not as infallible experts talking to a needy, child-like public, but with receptivity such that constructive dialogue among folk with competing commitments can shape and improve research the outcome of which may surprise (epistemic uncertainty plays a big role in Douglas's account). It's her commitment to some such dialogue, hat helps explain why she thinks that "elucidating the proper roles and proper values for science" can be helpful to generating authority for science (both within and outside science). How this is supposed to work, exactly, I leave aside here. But the thought seems to be that by being more honest about the nature of science the more support it can have among an Enlightening public, because it becomes less vulnerable to debunking arguments.
For, one of Douglas's key moves is to argue that "Rather than stalemates of ideological clashes, we can see how understanding the intertwining of values and evidence in science provides ways to disagree rationally and to discuss our disagreements without disparaging our opponents." Douglas gets there by introducing (it's already in her 2009 book, see p. 153) what I call a neo-Popperian assumption that (ideologically diverse) participants in the public discussion need to reveal what (kind of) evidence would make them change their mind about some policy or claim. (Obviously, it is an open question if they will treat the evidence as evidence, etc.) Revealing this will spur on conversation and research.
The problem is, is that authority is meant to produce obedience of a certain sort not conversation nor persuasion. Such obedience need not be unquestioning and can allow conversation, but authority is designed to end conversation (and make space for action or inaction). So, it's an awkward concept for Douglas to be relying on. Even if we treat authority as a kind of trust, it's clear that trust is necessary, but not sufficient to generate such (non-violent, non-forceful) obedience. Something extra is needed. Now, Douglas can allow this because she treats authority not as a mass noun, but as something that can come in degrees. If this extra is not going to be force/violence (and we should not ignore the role of state-power), then this something extra is going to be either some kind of faith or value/aesthetic commitment, or rhetoric. I don't mean to suggest this is a criticism of Douglas; for all I know, she welcomes this result.