Interdisciplinary Research Group in Socio-technical Cybersecurity
Nordic Science and Technology Studies Conference 2021
Democratic dialogue as socio-technological tool to overcome vaccine nationalism
Dr Marietjie Botes
Enlightenment is man’s emergence from his self-imposed immaturity. Immaturity is the inability to use one’s understanding without guidance from another.
—Immanuel Kant, “What is Enlightenment?” (1784)
COVID-19 constitutes the biggest ever collective concern. To deal with this, pharmaceutical companies have pushed aside their competitiveness and patent interests to share valuable data and collaborate on the development of vaccines at an unprecedented speed. This was made possible through democratic dialogue built on trust and commitment to a collective goal. Regardless of the uncertainties that pandemics entail, this allowed for properly considered decisions based on insights gained from one another’s existing data. Unfortunately, the many political voices and influences in the debate about vaccine roll out only resulted in ‘vaccine nationalism’. This debate was further complicated by the diverse range of people, institutions and countries which may only be resolved through open deliberation to generate new ethical perspectives. Citizens of constitutional democracies also demand a say in the finding of solutions to their socio-economic and health problems, including a democratic approach to science communication. The only way to save society from this global health emergency is through democratic dialogue on the highest political and international institutional levels, with participatory technological assessment through public engagement. The details of a socio-technological exercise during a catastrophic event requires a closer investigation into the interaction between science, technology, and public engagement.
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