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Towards an epistemic evaluation of think tank ecosystems: the case of epistemic justice


This chapter contributes to a more general research programme on the social epistemology of think tanks by exploring the issue of how the production and transmission of knowledge by think tanks can best be evaluated. Most evaluations of think tanks take each organization as a unit. The goal of the assessment becomes a ranking of organizations according to a set of criteria meant to capture what an ideal think tank would look like, most often in terms of impact or transparency. Although organizational-level evaluations can be valuable, we propose to evaluate think tanks at the level of ecosystems rather than at the level of individual organizations. Moreover, whereas existing evaluations conflate excellence with concerns such as ‘impact,’ we propose to evaluate them on the basis of their epistemic excellence. Thus, with the help of examples from Canada and elsewhere, this chapter illustrates how think tanks can be evaluated as ecosystems and on epistemic grounds. This chapter also concentrates on one specific component of epistemic excellence: the ways in which think tanks can hinder or foster epistemic justice. The chapter first lays out the benefits of an ecosystemic evaluation, then explains how a conception of epistemic excellence can apply to think tank ecosystems before exploring characteristics of ecosystems that can be conducive or detrimental to epistemic excellence.


Veillette, A., Claveau, F. et Catala, A. (2021). Towards an epistemic evaluation of think tank ecosystems: The case of epistemic justice. Dans J. Landry (dir.), Critical perspectives on think tanks. : Edward Elgar Publishing.

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A. Veillette
Amandine Catala