Tuesday, March 24

Meeting 10 (3/31) — Science in a non-ideal World

  • Kitcher, Science, Truth, and Democracy, Chapters 10-11, 14. (We may read 12-13 later down the road --- I think they can be acceptably read out of order.)
  • Please also re-read/skim and bring the Kitcher and Flory article (which should by now be illuminated by the background of Kitcher's perspective on well-ordered science).
Next time, we'll start with group 1's brief introduction to some of the problems Kitcher's ideal of Well-Ordered Science (WOS) allows us to see in our present social arrangements. I'm curious about whether his ideal gives us enough to be able to say what to do about these problems. We also didn't get a chance to talk in much detail about whether we agree that WOS represents an ideal. Can you imagine other directions in which our science policy should aim? I also wanted to talk a bit more about the problem of what to do if we should find certain areas of research to be wrong to pursue. Can we just ban their pursuit (105)?

Chapter 11 gets back to the question of the role the ideal of WOS should play in our thinking about science policy. Not only can it help us identify problems, it might serve a role in directing positive measures to improve things. For any discussion of social policy, don't we need to have a conception of the good at which we are aiming? This chapter also addresses some of the concerns we identified today surrounding the inclusion in the idea of "experts" in the construction of our scientific priorities. To what extent can we expect such experts to represent our interests? Should "elitism" dominate in the construction of our scientific priorities? Might not this be the best way of approximating a state of WOS?

The general question of how to put an ideal into motion in an imperfect world is addressed in Chapter 14, which begins to address some very specific problems that we can consider. Kitcher was on the NIH ethical working group when a lot of key questions were being considered there (or, depending on your perspective, not being considered there). So there are problems. No big surprise. But what should individual researchers do about them? So we might have a collective responsibility to redirect our collective scientific attention toward or away from certain projects, but how should that affect you as a working scientist (if indeed you hope to become one)?

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.