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Book Review

Crippling Epistemologies and Governance Failures

Crippling Epistemologies and Governance Failures

by Gilles Paquet

In Crippling Epistemologies and Governance Failures, Gilles Paquet criticizes the prevailing practices of the social sciences on the basis of their inadequate concepts of knowledge, evidence and inquiry, concepts he claims have become methodological "mental prisons." Paquet describes the prevailing policy development process in Canada in terms of its weak information infrastructure, poor accountability and inflexible organizational design. In contract, he suggests that social science and public policy should promote forms of "serious play" that would allow organizations to experiment with new structures.

Paquet engages with numerous foundationalist programs in the social sciences in order to show their inadequacy and suggests important and unexplored directions in policy areas as diverse as education, science, health, intergovernmental and foreign policy. He closes the work with a plea for experimentalism in academic research, policy development and organizational design.

Table of Contents



The difficult emergence of a new mindset

Part I Crippling Epistemologies

  • Introduction
  • Chapter 1: Two tramps in mud time
  • Chapter 2: Professional "wrighting and wroughting"
  • Chapter 3: Corporate culture and governance

Part II Weak Infrastructure and Inadequate Scaffolding

  • Introduction
  • Chapter 4: Weak cognitive infrastructure
  • Chapter 5: Unintelligent accountability
  • Chapter 6: Organization design neglected

Part III Less than Effective Bricolage

  • Introduction
  • Chapter 7: Nothing is more rational than a rationalization
  • Chapter 8: Science policy - circumstantial evidence
  • Chapter 9: Foreign policy - the many are smarter than the few

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