It is difficult to imagine a more timely or important subject than that of Jonathan Rauch’s new book. The “constitution of knowledge” in his book’s title refers to the complicated set of tools and rules, practices and norms that we use to determine what is true—from the replication of scientific experiments to the fact-checking procedures used by magazines. The aim of his book is to discuss how we know what we know, and to diagnose contemporary threats to the constitution of knowledge, so that it might be better protected.
Readers will come away from Rauch’s book better equipped to describe and defend the people and institutions that devote themselves to understanding reality. Rauch’s hopefulness with regards to the future integrity of knowledge and truth is refreshing and in many instances persuasive. He anticipates important objections and addresses them thoughtfully throughout. And he writes with attention and care, which is both essential and difficult given the scope of his subject.
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