Jerome Ravetz

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Jerome (Jerry) Ravetz (born 1929) is an environmental consultant and academic. He has written on the philosophy of science. He is best known for his books challenging the assumptions of scientific objectivity, discussing the science wars and post-normal science. Ravetz is an Associate Fellow at the Saïd Business School, University of Oxford.


After World War II, the United States was swept into a period of anti-communist McCarthyism. Ravetz grew up in a left-wing family and although never a member of the American Communist Party he was what was then called a fellow traveler. He went to England on a Fulbright Scholarship, and had returned to complete his studies, marry, and take a job when in 1955 his U.S. passport was withdrawn. It was returned in 1958 after a ruling by the Supreme Court, and he has since visited the U.S.A. many times starting in 1962. He has visited at Harvard University, the Institute for Advanced Study, the University of California, Santa Cruz, the University of Texas at Dallas and Carnegie Mellon University.

Ravetz received a BA from Swarthmore College in 1950 and a PhD in mathematics from Trinity College, Cambridge University as a Fulbright Scholar in 1954. He joined the faculty of Leeds University in 1957 where he taught history and philosophy of science. In 1971, he published the influential book Scientific Knowledge and Its Social Problems.

Ravetz is best known for his books that raise issues of uncertainty and ethics in the social practice of science. His first book was an early attempt to shift the philosophy of science from epistemology to the social and ethical aspects of science. With Silvio Funtowicz he later created the NUSAP notational system for uncertain information, and also the theory of Post-normal science.

From 1977 to 1978, he was a member of the Genetic Manipulation Advisory Group. He co-authored Uncertainty and Quality in Science for Policy with Silvio Funtowicz in 1991,[1] and authored Cyberfutures: Culture and Politics on the Information Superhighway in 1996.[2] His most recent book is A No-Nonsense Guide to Science.[3]

Currently Ravetz is an independent scholar and self-employed consultant, working mainly on problems of the management of uncertainty in risks and environmental issues. Ravetz holds a position as Associate Fellow at the Institute for Science, Innovation and Society [1] at the University of Oxford. This institute was previously known as James Martin Institute for Science and Civilization.


"Wherever there's a system, there's a racket to beat it." Scientific Knowledge and its Social Problems, Oxford 1971, p 295


  • Ravetz, Jerome R. (1979). Scientific knowledge and its social problems. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press. ISBN 0-19-519721-6. 
  • Ravetz, Jerome R. (1990). The merger of knowledge with power: essays in critical science. London [England]: Mansell. ISBN 0-7201-2021-7. 
  • Ravetz, Jerome R.; Funtowicz, Silvio O. (1991). Uncertainty and quality in science for policy. Boston: Kluwer Academic Publishers. ISBN 0-7923-0799-2. 
  • Ravetz, Jerome R.; Sardar, Ziauddin (1996). Cyberfutures: culture and politics on the information superhighway. New York: New York University Press. ISBN 0-8147-8058-X. 
  • Ravetz, Jerome R. (2005). A No-Nonsense Guide to Science. Oxford: New Internationalist. 
  • Ravetz, Jerome R. (1965). Astronomy and cosmology in the achievement of Nicolaus Copernicus. Wrocław, Poland: Zakład Narodowy im. Ossolińskich. 

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