Science means dissent. After all, it is the purpose of the scientific endeavour to clarify questions which have not yet been answered – and if these questions only had one possible answer, they would not remain unanswered. So far, so good.
Scientific debate culture is currently being shaken by various developments that also capture the culture of debate in other areas of society. This concerns, for example, the role of science in social discourse. Expertise and analysis can no longer claim authority as a matter of course, but are increasingly exposed to a similar form of elite criticism as journalism or politics. At the same time, some people complain about the lack of great public intellectuals and wish for a greater involvement of science in political debates.
Moreover, the change in the culture of debate also covers the dispute in science itself. Social media enables much faster, sharper, and more targeted communication than traditional formats such as magazines or books. This presents the opportunity for faster self-correction but also bears the risk that only those who have the most followers and thus the greatest reach have an audience ready to listen to their arguments.
This edition of the Junge Akademie Magazine therefore asks the question of what is necessary in order to have a good scientific debate and which challenges arise along the way. The individual texts of the poster magazine highlight different aspects from the perspective of different disciplines. Computer scientist Dirk Pflüger investigates how debate changes within society and science when we no longer communicate by mail but electronically. Art historian Nausikaä El-Mecky asks who is allowed to take part in the debate and which habitus he – and, in particular, she – must display in the process. Legal scholar Timo Rademacher focuses on what it means for the academic debate if arguments are simultaneously measured on criteria from both scientific and practical application. And Islamic studies scholar Simon Fuchs considers whether scholars have a responsibility to interfere in political debates, even if differentiations are lost.
Above all, this magazine is an invitation to enter debate. Debate, as the authors believe, can be extremely productive. However, this presupposes that different positions actually come into their own. Physicist Michael Saliba and political scientist Lukas Haffert argue that this succeeds particularly well if the debate is carried out according to rules which make it possible to clearly differentiate between different arguments. And physicist Astrid Eichhorn points out that dispute is especially productive when the arguing parties bring very different ideas and perspectives to the debate.
In the end, of course, a good debate is not always about new insights, but sometimes quite simply about who emerges as the winner. The poster on the back of this Junge Akademie Magazine provides an overview of which debating strategies have proven particularly promising in the history of science. Perhaps you recognise your own approach to debate in some of the historical examples? And if you hang the poster next to your cloakroom or on your office door, it may even inspire your visitors to try out new debate resolution strategies on you.
We hope you enjoy reading this edition,
Lukas Haffert Oliver Rymek Erik Schilling Ricarda Winkelmann