This paper argues that, because Science and Technology Studies (STS) lost contact with political philosophy, its defense of public participation in policy-making involving technical claims is normatively unsatisfactory. Current penchants for political under-laboring and normative individualism are critiqued, and the connections between STS and theorists of deliberative democracy are explored. A conservative normativity is proposed, and STS positions on public participation are discussed in relation to current questions about individual and group rights in a liberal democracy. The result is avenues to normatively defend public participation, by analogy with identity politics and Habermas, while also theorizing its limits.

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