Friend or foe: A brief examination of the ethics of corporate sponsored research at universities: A response to ‘ethics and the funding of research and development at universities’

Science and Engineering Ethics 4 (3):385-390 (1998)

Abstract

n his paper entitled “Ethics and the Funding of Research and Development at Universities”1 Spier examines some of the potential problems of the relationship between 1) corporate sponsors of research and 2) the universities that receive that funding. Citing “He who pays the piper, calls the tune,” Spier suggests that a better way of funding research would be to “set up a dedicated publicly sponsored research establishment” with the stated goal of achieving particular technical or engineering objectives.. Spier states that researchers at these establishments are “not subjected to the triple requirement to teach, research and administer as are university members, so they do not have to face the same ethical challenges of the academics.” This paper will examine the stated dangers of public/corporate research partnerships and whether the proposed alternative shares equally troubling ethical issues.

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