Science and Engineering Ethics 20 (4):1045-1063 (2014)

Elizabeth Victor
William Paterson University of New Jersey
In his recent work exploring the role of science in democratic societies Kitcher claims that scientists ought to have a prominent role in setting the agenda for and limits to research. Against the backdrop of the claim that the proper limits of scientific inquiry is John Stuart Mill’s Harm Principle , he identifies the limits of inquiry as the point where the outcomes of research could cause harm to already vulnerable populations. Nonetheless, Kitcher argues against explicit limitations on unscrupulous research on the grounds that restrictions would exacerbate underlying social problems. I show that Kitcher’s argument in favor of dissuading inquiry through conventional standards is problematic and falls prey to the same critique he offers in opposition to official bans. I expand the conversation of limiting scientific research by recognizing that the actions that count as ‘science’ are located in the space between ‘thinking’ and ‘doing’. In this space, we often attempt to balance freedom of research, as scientific speech, against the disparate impact citizens might experience in light of such research. I end by exploring if such disparate impact justifies limiting research, within the context of the United States, under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 or under international human rights standards more generally
Keywords Applied ethics  Civil rights  Human rights  Limitations on inquiry  Research ethics  Scientific freedom
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DOI 10.1007/s11948-013-9497-5
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References found in this work BETA

Science, Truth, and Democracy.Philip Kitcher - 2001 - Oxford University Press.
Science, Truth, and Democracy.A. Bird - 2003 - Mind 112 (448):746-749.
Suffering Rights as Paradoxes.Wendy Brown - 2000 - Constellations 7 (2):208-229.
Wanted.Rebecca Dresser - 1992 - Hastings Center Report 22 (1):24-29.

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