A wide array of phenomena lumped together under the rubric of the ?commercialization of science,? the ?commodification of research,? and the ?marketplace of ideas? are both figuratively and literally Ponzi schemes. This thesis grows out of my experience of working on two concurrent projects: the first, an attempt to understand the forces behind the progressive commercialization of science; and the second, when it dawned upon me that the financial crisis then unfolding was resulting in the deepest worldwide economic contraction since (...) the Great Depression of the 1930s. This lecture explores the parallels in three different areas: the biotech sector, technology transfer offices at major universities, and possible decline of numbers of American-authored papers in major science journals. (shrink)
Although the push to get universities to accumulate IP by commercializing their scientific research was a conscious movement, dealing with the blowback in the form of contracts over the transfer of research tools and inputs, called materials transfer agreements (MTAs), was greeted by universities as an afterthought. Faculty often regarded them as an irritant, and TTOs were not much more welcoming. One reason universities could initially ignore the obvious connection between the pursuit of patents and the prior promulgation of MTAs (...) was a legalistic distinction made between intellectual property and contract law, which of course is of direct concern to a lawyer, but should be less compelling for anyone trying to understand the big picture surrounding the commercialization of academic science. However, as a subset of scientists were increasingly drawn into the commercial sphere, they tended to attach MTAs to research inputs requested by other academics; and this began a tidal wave of MTAs which shows no sign of abating. Furthermore, many IP-related restrictions have been loaded into individual MTAs, including the stipulation that the existence and content of MTAs themselves be treated as secret and proprietary. The paper closes by looking at recent arguments that the growth of MTAs has not actually harmed the research process, and rejects them. (shrink)
The widespread impression that recent philosophy of science has pioneered exploration of the “social dimensions of scientific knowledge‘ is shown to be in error, partly due to a lack of appreciation of historical precedent, and partly due to a misunderstanding of how the social sciences and philosophy have been intertwined over the last century. This paper argues that the referents of “democracy‘ are an important key in the American context, and that orthodoxies in the philosophy of science tend to be (...) molded by the actual regimes of science organization within which they are embedded. These theses are illustrated by consideration of three representative philosophers of science: John Dewey, Hans Reichenbach, and Philip Kitcher. [Copyright &y& Elsevier]. (shrink)
The relationship between Friedrich Hayek and Michael Polanyi is documented and explored with respect to philosophy and economics. Their respective positions on epistemology and science are shown to fundamentally govern their differences with regard to the efficacy of government policy with regard to the economy.
The failure of the attempt by Michael Polanyi to capture the social organization of science by comparing it to the operation of a market bears salutary lessons for modern philosophers of science in their rush to appropriate market models and metaphors. In this case, an initially plausible invisible hand argument ended up as crude propaganda for the uniquely privileged social support of science.