Facing the tragedy of change in the semiotic process: The role of science

Mario Giampietro*, Zora Kovacic

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


We offer an interpretation of the concepts of integrity and quality of science based on semiotics. Science is a key component of the semiotic process in society, its role being the selection of representations of relevant events for guiding policy with the ultimate goal of preserving society's identity. The fitness of scientific information depends on the definition of its usefulness and relevance, and, therefore, on the identity of the 'self' of the semiotic process. Several distinct definitions of identity co-exist that are negotiated across levels (individuals, households, communities). Growing feelings of belonging to a post-truth world signal a failure in the preservation of the integrity of the semiotic process: scientific crises are coupled with social and political crises in an impredicative way. It is concluded that science should evolve from being a mere source of facts to a source of insights about how to deal with the tragedy of change.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)88-109
Number of pages22
JournalInternational Journal of Sustainable Development
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • Integrity and quality in science
  • Post-normal science
  • Post-truth world
  • Science for governance
  • Semiotic process
  • Tragedy of change


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