Justin B. Biddle
Georgia Institute of Technology
A topic of growing importance within philosophy of science is the epistemic implications of the organization of research. This paper identifies a promising approach to social epistemology—nonideal systems design—and uses it to examine one important aspect of the organization of research, namely the system of patenting and licensing and its role in structuring the production and dissemination of knowledge. The primary justification of patenting in science and technology is consequentialist in nature. Patenting should incentivize research and thereby promote the development of knowledge, which in turn facilitates social progress. Some have disputed this argument, maintaining that patenting actually inhibits knowledge production. In this paper, I make a stronger argument; in some areas of research in the US—in particular, research on GM seeds—patents and patent licenses can be, and are in fact being, used to prohibit some research. I discuss three potential solutions to this problem: voluntary agreements, eliminating patents, and a research exemption. I argue against eliminating patents, and I show that while voluntary agreements and a research exemption could be helpful, they do not sufficiently address the problems of access that are discussed here. More extensive changes in the organization of research are necessary.
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1016/j.shpsa.2013.12.001
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 59,864
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

Bias and Values in Scientific Research.Torsten Wilholt - 2009 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 40 (1):92-101.
The Community of Science®.James R. Brown - 2008 - In Martin Carrier, Don Howard & Janet A. Kourany (eds.), The Challenge of the Social and the Pressure of Practice: Science and Values Revisited. University of Pittsburgh Press.

View all 16 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

From Tapestry to Loom: Broadening the Perspective on Values in Science.Heather Douglas - 2018 - Philosophy, Theory, and Practice in Biology 10 (8).

View all 13 citations / Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Gene Patents.Richard M. Lebovitz - 2004 - Journal of Philosophy, Science and Law 4:1-14.
A Biotechnology Patent Pool: An Idea Whose Time Has Come?David B. Resnik - 2003 - Journal of Philosophy, Science and Law 3:1-22.
GM Crops: Patently Wrong? [REVIEW]James Wilson - 2007 - Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics 20 (3):261-283.
Disease Gene Patenting: The Clinician's Dilemma.David Magnus - 1998 - Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics 7 (4):433-435.
Should Human Genes Be Patented?David K. Chan - 2005 - Philosophy in the Contemporary World 12 (2):30-36.


Added to PP index

Total views
48 ( #215,332 of 2,433,133 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
4 ( #169,861 of 2,433,133 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes