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Keywords:

  • expertise;
  • activism;
  • virtue ethics;
  • discourse ethics;
  • third wave of science studies;
  • genetically modified food;
  • African food crisis;
  • sustainability

Abstract: This essay critically examines whether there are ethical dimensions to the way that expertise, knowledge claims, and expressions of skepticism intersect on technical matters that influence public policy, especially during times of crisis. It compares two different perspectives on the matter: a philosophical outlook rooted in discourse and virtue ethics and a sociological outlook rooted in the so-called third-wave approach to science studies. The comparison occurs through metaphilosophical analysis and applied claims that clarify how the disciplinary orientations appear to lead to different judgments about matters related to Robert Paarlberg's condemnation of activists who advise African politicians to ban genetically modified food.