Research and development are prerequisites for human cognition and for the solution of specific practical problems in daily life. Since historical times, science, technology and humanities organized themselves into a growing number of disciplines and sub-disciplines. This fragmentation took place mainly for practical reasons and proved to be quite successful with regard to the improvement of the human condition, comfort and health. However, larger contemporary problems of modern societies confront us with quite higher complexity, uncertainty and ambiguity, than before. These changed circumstances and the apparent convergence of certain evolved technologies or practice (synthetic biology, nanotechnology, interventions into the brain, …) clearly raise serious questions beyond disciplinary borders and therefore for the generation and exchange of interdisciplinary knowledge for the better orientation of actors and stakeholders in a world of changing risks and justification needs.
Sound and just reasoning generally aims towards overall acceptability of difficult decisions and to the peaceful solution of socio-technological conflicts. Rationality seems to be therefore the leading paradigm here, at least for those decisions, which might affect or lock-in present or future stakeholders on long time-scales. However, the above mentioned trinity of socio-technical problems as well as further questions might also challenge the concept of rational advice. Therefore, relevant validity problems, appropriate levels of policy advice and pending questions of dealing with plurality will have to be discussed – also with respect to alternative (for instance participatory) approaches. For illustration, an overview of the rational assessment approach from the academy’s workbench will be given, thus reflecting 16 years of mostly successful but even still improvable interdisciplinary knowledge generation and advice.
From this experience, the presentation will conclude with a statement on the role of philosophy in interdisciplinary research and advice as well as with a rather provisional and personal perspective on how a “new philosophy” should evolve.