No one really knows where nanotechnology is leading, what its pursuit will mean, and how it may affect human and other forms of life. Nevertheless, its research and development are moving briskly into that unknown. It has been suggested that rapid movement towards 'who knows where' is endemic to all technological development; that its researchers pursue it for curiosity and enjoyment, without knowing the consequences, believing that their efforts will be beneficial. Further, that the enthusiasm for development comes with no (...) malicious intent but rather from simple ignorance. Contrary to that commonly held perception about the collective pursuit of technological development, there are individual research scientists and engineers who are quite willing to reflect on the meaning of their work in nanotechnology. Nanotalk is a book of conversations and explorations with thirty five such nano-research scientists and engineers who share their ideas, experiences, perceptions, and beliefs about their work, humanity, nature, change, and the future of the world with nanotechnology. Precisely because of the unknowable nature of nanotechnology research and development, conscientious foresight and ethical reflection are warranted every step of the way. Not only do nanotechnology research and development represent enormous financial commitments, but they also require a profound leap of faith regarding its possible outcomes. Using these conversations as the basis of reflection and deliberation, the author explores the possible significance of nanotechnology to humanity and how it might be pursued conscientiously and ethically. (shrink)
The central question addressed is: How should scientific research be conducted so as to ensure that nature is respected and the well being of everyone everywhere enhanced? After pointing to the importance of methodological pluralism for an acceptable answer and to obstacles posed by characterizing scientific methodology too narrowly, which are reinforced by the ‘commercial-scientific ethos’, two additional questions are considered: How might research, conducted in this way, have impact on—and depend on—strengthening democratic values and practices? And: What is thereby (...) implied for the responsibilities of scientists today? (shrink)
In recent years, in the UK and elsewhere, scientists and science policymakers have grappled with the question of how to reap the benefits of nanotechnologies while minimising the risks. Having recognised the importance of public support for future innovations, they have placed increasing emphasis on ‘engaging’ ‘the public’ during the early phase of technology development. Meaningful engagement suggests some common ground between experts and lay publics in relation to the definition of nanotechnologies and of their benefits and risks. However, (...) views on nanotechnologies are likely to vary according to where actors stand in the technology production/consumption/assessment cycle. Drawing on data from a recent UK-based study, this article examines how scientists (‘upstream’ and ‘downstream’) and policymakers portray the benefits and risks of nanotechnologies, particularly as they relate to two major areas of predicted application, namely medicine/public health and environmental sustainability. The findings reveal that, in the main, scientists and science policymakers held a positive conception of nanotechnologies and see imminent applications, although they acknowledged particular risks, including adverse public reaction. While definitions of ‘benefit’ and ‘risk’ varied, most saw the benefits as outweighing the risks and believed that the risks could be adequately regulated once they were assessed. The difficulties of assessing risk, however, were acknowledged. The study raises a number of questions that will need to be addressed if regulations are to be developed that not only protect people’s heath and wellbeing and the environment but also engender public trust in nanotechnologies. (shrink)
As Kenneth Pimple points out, scientists’ responsibilities to the larger society have received less attention than ethical issues internal to the practice of science. Yet scientists and specialists who study science have begun to provide analyses of the foundations and scope of scientsts’ responsibilities to society. An account of contributions from Kristen Shrader-Frechette, Melanie Leitner, Ullica Segerstråle, John Ahearne, Helen Longino, and Carl Cranor offers work on scientists’ social responsibilities upon which to build.
Advances in the life sciences are occurring with extreme rapidity and accumulating a great deal of knowledge about life’s vital processes. While this knowledge is essential for fighting disease in a more effective way, it can also be misused either intentionally or inadvertently to develop novel and more effective biological weapons. For nearly a decade civil-academic society as well as States Parties to the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention have recognised the importance of dual-use biosecurity education for life scientists (...) as a means to foster a culture of responsibility and prevent the potential misuse of advances in the life sciences for non-peaceful purposes. Nevertheless, the implementation of dual-use biosecurity education for life scientists has made little progress in institutions of higher learning. Professional societies and academic organizations have worked from the bottom-up in developing online dual-use biosecurity education modules that can be used for instruction. However, top-down help is needed from goverments if further progress is to be made in implementing biosecurity education for life scientists. (shrink)
This article deals with phenomena occurring at the interface of the existential, the religious, and scientific inquiry. On the basis of in-depth interviews with Polish physicists and biologists, I examine the role that science and religion play in their narrative of the meaning of the Universe and human life. I show that the narratives about meaning have a system-related character that is associated with responses to adjacent metaphysical questions, including those based on scientific knowledge. I reconstruct the typical amalgam questions (...) of Polish scientists and come to a conclusion about the stability of religious and nonreligious amalgams in this group. Critically referring to the thesis concerning the secularizing impact of science, I conclude that science by itself does not have a destructive effect on Polish scientists’ confidence that life and the Universe are meaningful, but is rather an exacerbating factor of the existing worldview system. (shrink)
This chapter contains sections titled: * 1 Science and Scientists in Conflict â the Case of Bohr and Heisenberg * 2 Professional/Personal Ethics in a Time Of War â Meitner, Einstein, Compton, and Wilson * 3 An Existential Experience: The Epiphany of the First Atomic Bomb Test * References.
Biological scientists, like scientists in other disciplines, are uncertain about whether or how to use their knowledge and time to provide society with insight and guidance in handling the effects of inventions and discoveries. This article addresses this issue. It presents a typography of structures in which scientists may contribute to social understanding and decisions. It describes the different ways in which these contributions can be made. Finally it develops the ethical arguments that justify the view that (...) biological scientists have social responsibilities. (shrink)
The perception of two key stakeholders such as policymakers and scientists on genetic modification (GM) technology was examined in Ghana and Nigeria using semi-structured interviews. A total sample of 20 policymakers (16 at ministries and 4 at parliament/cabinet) and 58 scientists (43 at research institutes and 15 at universities) participated at the interviews. This study revealed respondents perspectives on potential benefits and risks of GM technology, status and development of biosafety regulatory frameworks, role of science and technology innovation (...) in agricultural development, intellectual property right and related issues. The study also shed some light on a possible influence of the European Union and United States in the development and potential adoption of GM technology. More importantly, the article suggests that most respondents including policymakers believe that GM technology has great potential to solve part of agricultural problems in both countries. But, lack of appropriate regulatory framework, lack of trained personnel, weak institutions and poor equipped laboratory among others represent a significant challenge in introducing GM technology in this part of Africa. (shrink)
In 1942 Robert K. Merton tried to demonstrate the structure of the normative system of science by specifying the norms that characterized it. The norms were assigned the abbreviation CUDOs: Communism, Universalism, Disinterestedness, and Organized skepticism. Using the results of an on-line survey of climate scientists concerning the norms of science, this paper explores the climate scientists’ subscription to these norms. The data suggests that while Merton’s CUDOs remain the overall guiding moral principles, they are not fully endorsed (...) or present in the conduct of climate scientists: there is a tendency to withhold results until publication, there is the intention of maintaining property rights, there is external influence defining research and the tendency to assign the significance of authored work according to the status of the author rather than content of the paper. These are contrary to the norms of science as proposed by Robert K. Merton. (shrink)
In this article two inter-related issues concerning the ongoing commercialisation of biomedical research are analyzed. One aim is to explain how scientists and clinicians at Swedish public institutions can make profits, both commercially and scientifically, by controlling rare human biological material, like embryos and embryonic stem cell lines. This control in no way presupposes legal ownership or other property rights as an initial condition. We show how ethically sensitive material (embryos and stem cell lines) have been used in Sweden (...) as a foundation for a commercial stem cell enterprise—despite all official Swedish strictures against commercialisation in this area. We also show how political decisions may amplify the value of controlling this kind of biological material. Another aim of the article is to analyze and discuss the meaning of this kind of academic commercial enterprise in a wider context of research funding strategies. A conclusion that is drawn is that the academic turn to commercial funding sources is dependent on the decline of public funding. (shrink)
In 1880, Galton carried out an investigation of imagery in a sample of distinguished men and a sample of nonscientists (adolescent male students). He concluded that scientists were either totally lacking in visual imagery or had “feeble” powers of mental imagery. This finding has been widely accepted in the secondary literature in psychology. A replication of Galton’s study with modern scientists and modern university undergraduates found no scientists totally lacking in visual imagery and very few with feeble (...) visual imagery. Examination of Galton’s published data shows that his own published data do not support his claims about deficient visual imagery in scientists. The modern data for scientists and nonscientists and the 1880 data for scientists and nonscientists are in agreement in showing that all groups report substantial imagery on recollective memory tasks such as Galton’s breakfast questionnaire. We conclude that Galton’s conclusions were an example of theory-laden interpretation of data based on the initial responses from several very salient scientists who reported little or no visual imagery on Galton’s imagery questionnaire. (shrink)
The U.S. scientific community has long led the world in research on such areas as public health, environmental science, and issues affecting quality of life. These scientists have produced landmark studies on the dangers of DDT, tobacco smoke, acid rain, and global warming. But at the same time, a small yet potent subset of this community leads the world in vehement denial of these dangers. -/- Merchants of Doubt tells the story of how a loose-knit group of high-level (...) class='Hi'>scientists and scientific advisers, with deep connections in politics and industry, ran effective campaigns to mislead the public and deny well-established scientific knowledge over four decades. Remarkably, the same individuals surface repeatedly-some of the same figures who have claimed that the science of global warming is "not settled" denied the truth of studies linking smoking to lung cancer, coal smoke to acid rain, and CFCs to the ozone hole. "Doubt is our product," wrote one tobacco executive. These "experts" supplied it. -/- Naomi Oreskes and Erik M. Conway, historians of science, roll back the rug on this dark corner of the American scientific community, showing how ideology and corporate interests, aided by a too-compliant media, have skewed public understanding of some of the most pressing issues of our era. (shrink)
1. Introduction : humanity's urge to understand -- 2. Elements of scientific thinking : skepticism, careful reasoning, and exhaustive evaluation are all vital. Science Is universal -- Maintaining a critical attitude. Reasonable skepticism -- Respect for the truth -- Reasoning. Deduction -- Induction -- Paradigm shifts -- Evaluating scientific hypotheses. Ockham's razor -- Quantitative evaluation -- Verification by others -- Statistics : correlation and causation -- Statistics : the indeterminacy of the small -- Careful definition -- Science at the frontier. (...) When good theories become ugly -- Stuff that just does not fit -- 3. Christopher Columbus and the discovery of the "Indies" : it can be disastrous to stubbornly refuse to recognize that you have falsified your own hypothesis -- 4. Antoine Lavoisier and Joseph Priestley both test the befuddling phlogiston theory : junking a confusing hypothesis may be necessary to clear the way for new and productive science -- 5. Michael Faraday discovers electromagnetic induction but fails to unify electromagnetism and gravitation : it is usually productive to simplify and consolidate your hypotheses -- 6. Wilhelm Röntgen intended to study cathode rays but ended up discovering X-rays : listen carefully when Mother Nature whispers in your ear : she may be leading you to a Nobel Prize -- 7. Max Planck, the first superhero of quantum theory, saves the universe from the ultraviolet catastrophe : assemble two flawed hypotheses about a key phenomenon into a model that fits experiment exactly and people will listen to you even if you must revolutionize physics -- 8. Albert Einstein attacks the problem "Are atoms real?" from every angle : solving a centuries-old riddle in seven different ways can finally resolve it -- 9. Niels Bohr models the hydrogen atom as a quantized system with compelling exactness, but his later career proves that collaboration and developing new talent can become more significant than the groundbreaking research of any individual -- 10. Conclusions, status of science, and lessons for our time. Conclusions from our biographies -- What thought processes lead to innovation? -- Is the scientist an outsider? -- The status of the modern scientific enterprise -- Lessons for our time -- Can the scientific method be applied to public policy? -- Why so little interest in science? -- Knowledge is never complete. (shrink)
Competition among scientists for funding, positions and prestige, among other things, is often seen as a salutary driving force in U.S. science. Its effects on scientists, their work and their relationships are seldom considered. Focus-group discussions with 51 mid- and early-career scientists, on which this study is based, reveal a dark side of competition in science. According to these scientists, competition contributes to strategic game-playing in science, a decline in free and open sharing of information and (...) methods, sabotage of others’ ability to use one’s work, interference with peer-review processes, deformation of relationships, and careless or questionable research conduct. When competition is pervasive, such effects may jeopardize the progress, efficiency and integrity of science. (shrink)
There are two senses of ‘what scientists know’: An individual sense (the separate opinions of individual scientists) and a collective sense (the state of the discipline). The latter is what matters for policy and planning, but it is not something that can be directly observed or reported. A function can be defined to map individual judgments onto an aggregate judgment. I argue that such a function cannot effectively capture community opinion, especially in cases that matter to us.
Science and technology (S&T) policy studies has explored the relationship between the structure of scientific research and the attainment of desired outcomes. Due to the difficulty of measuring them directly, S&T policy scholars have traditionally equated “outcomes” with several proxies for evaluation, including economic impact, and academic output such as papers published and citations received. More recently, scholars have evaluated science policies through the lens of Public Value Mapping, which assesses scientific programs against societal values. Missing from these approaches is (...) an examination of the social activities within the scientific enterprise that affect research outputs and outcomes. We contend that activities that significantly affect research trajectories take place at the levels of individual researchers and their communities, and that S&T policy scholars must take heed of this activity in their work in order to better inform policy. Based on primary research of two scientific communities—ecologists and sustainability scientists—we demonstrate that research agendas are actively shaped by parochial epistemic and normative concerns of the scientists and their disciplines. S&T policy scholarship that explores how scientists balance these concerns, alongside more formal science policies and incentive structures, will enhance understanding of why certain science policies fail or succeed and how to more effectively link science to beneficial social outcomes. (shrink)
During the 1990s, biomedical scientists and Muslim religious scholars collaborated to construe Islamic responses for the ethical questions raised by the AIDS pandemic. This is the first of a two-part study examining this collective legal reasoning (ijtihād jamā‘ī). The main thesis is that the role of the biomedical scientists is not limited to presenting scientific information. They engaged in the human rights discourse pertinent to people living with HIV/AIDS, gave an account of the preventive strategy adopted by the (...) World Health Organization, and offered an (Islamic) virtue-based preventive model. Finally, these scientists tried to draft a number of Islamic legal rulings (aḥkām), usually seen in Islamic jurisprudence as the exclusive business of Muslim religious scholars. This multilayered role played by the scientists reflects intriguing developments in the Islamic religio-ethical discourse in general and in the field of Islamic jurisprudence in particular. (shrink)
Dissent is thought to play a valuable role in science, so that scientific communities ought to create opportunities for receiving critical feedback and take dissenting views seriously. There is concern, however, that some dissent does more harm than good. Dissent on climate change and evolutionary theory, for example, has confused the public, created doubt about existing consensus, derailed public policy, and forced scientists to devote resources to respond. Are there limits to the extent to which scientific communities have obligations (...) to seek and engage dissenting views? We consider the two main criteria that have been offered for what constitutes “normatively appropriate dissent” or the sort of dissent that ought to have the opportunity to be heard and taken seriously. Many have argued that dissenters must (1) engage in uptake of criticism against their own views and (2) share some standards for theory appraisal. We argue these criteria ultimately are unsuccessful. (shrink)
Scientific progress can be credited to creative scientists, who constantly ideate new theories and experiments. I explore how the three central positions in philosophy of science – scientific realism, scientific pessimism, and instrumentalism – are related to the practical issue of how scientists’ creativity can be fostered. I argue that realism encourages scientists to entertain new theories and experiments, pessimism discourages them from doing so, and instrumentalism falls in between realism and pessimism in terms of its effects (...) on scientists’ creativity. Therefore, scientists should accept realism and reject both pessimism and instrumentalism for the sake of scientific creativity and progress. (shrink)
The aim of this article is to further our understanding of the “GM is unnatural” view, and of the critical response to it. While many people have been reported to hold the view that GM is unnatural, many policy-makers and their advisors have suggested that the view must be ignored or rejected, and that there are scientific reasons for doing so. Three “typical” examples of ways in which the “GM is unnatural” view has been treated by UK policy-makers and their (...) advisors are explored. These are the Government’s position (DEFRA Report), the account of the Nuffield Council on Bioethics, and the position of Nigel Halford, a scientist with an advisory role to the Government. I show that their accounts fail to mount a convincing critique. Then, I draw on an empirical research project held during 2003–2004 at the University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne in the north east of England. Scientists met with non-scientists in a range of facilitated one-to-one conversations (“exchanges”) on various environmental issues, one of which was on GM. Our findings show that some scientists who rejected the “GM is unnatural” view struggled to do so consistently. Their struggle is interpreted in terms of a conflict between a so-called “scientific” worldview, and a different worldview that underlies the concerns of those who held the “GM is unnatural” view. This worldview is explored further by an examination of their concerns. What distinguishes this worldview from the “scientific” worldview is that the instrumentalization of the nonhuman world is questioned to a larger extent. I conclude that, because the underlying concerns of those who held the “GM is unnatural” view were not with GM as such, yet with a worldview that was considered to be problematic, and of which many GM applications were held to be expressions, policy-makers and their advisors should reflect on the critical worldview of those who claim that GM is unnatural if they want to engage seriously with their concerns. (shrink)
Abstract Academic social scientists overwhelmingly vote Democratic, and the Democratic hegemony has increased significantly since 1970. Moreover, the policy preferences of a large sample of the members of the scholarly associations in anthropology, economics, history, legal and political philosophy, political science, and sociology generally bear out conjectures about the correspondence of partisan identification with left/right ideal types; although across the board, both Democratic and Republican academics favor government action more than the ideal types might suggest. Variations in policy views (...) among Democrats is smaller than among Republicans. Ideological diversity (as judged not only by voting behavior, but by policy views) is by far the greatest within economics. Social scientists who deviate from left?wing views are as likely to be libertarian as conservative. (shrink)
This paper explores the ways in which postdoctoral life scientists engage in supervision work in academic institutions in Austria. Reward systems and career conditions in academic institutions in most European and other OECD countries have changed significantly during the last two decades. While an increasing focus is put on evaluating research performances, little reward is attached to excellent performances in mentoring and advising students. Postdoctoral scientists mostly inhabit fragile institutional positions and experience harsh competition, as the number of (...) available senior positions is small compared to that of young scientists striving for an academic career. To prevail in this competition, publications and mobility are key. Educational work is rarely rewarded. Nevertheless, postdocs play a key role in educating PhD students, as overburdened senior scientists often pass on practical supervision duties to their postdoctoral fellows. This paper shows how under these conditions, postdocs reframe the students they supervise as potential resources for co-authored publications. What might look like a mutually beneficial solution at a first glance, in practice implies the subordination of the values of education to the logic of production, which marginalizes spaces primarily devoted to education. The author argues that conflicts like this are indicative of broader changes in the cultural norms of science and academic citizenship, rendering community-oriented tasks such as education work less attractive to academic scientists. Since education and supervision work are central cornerstones of any functioning higher education and research system, this could have negative repercussions for the long-term development of academic institutions. (shrink)
Funding agencies in Canada are attempting to break down the organizational boundaries between disciplines to promote interdisciplinary research and foster the integration of the social sciences into the health research field. This paper explores the extent to which biomedical and clinician scientists’ perceptions of social science research operate as a cultural boundary to the inclusion of social scientists into this field. Results indicated that cultural boundaries may impede social scientists’ entry into the health research field through three (...) modalities: (1) biomedical and clinician scientists’ unfavourable and ambivalent posture towards social science research; (2) their opposition to a resource increase for the social sciences; and (3) clinician scientists procedural assessment criteria for social science. The paper also discusses the merits and limitations of Tom Gieryn’s concept of boundary-work for studying social dynamics within the field of science. (shrink)
A wave of recent work in metaphysics seeks to undermine the anti-reductionist, functionalist consensus of the past few decades in cognitive science and philosophy of mind. That consensus apparently legitimated a focus on what systems do, without necessarily and always requiring attention to the details of how systems are constituted. The new metaphysical challenge contends that many states and processes referred to by functionalist cognitive scientists are epiphenomenal. It further contends that the problem lies in functionalism itself, and that, (...) to save the causal significance of mind, it is necessary to re-embrace reductionism. We argue that the prescribed return to reductionism would be disastrous for the cognitive and behavioral sciences, requiring the dismantling of most existing achievements and placing intolerable restrictions on further work. However, this argument fails to answer the metaphysical challenge on its own terms. We meet that challenge by going on to argue that the new metaphysical skepticism about functionalist cognitive science depends on reifying two distinct notions of causality (one primarily scientific, the other metaphysical), then equivocating between them. When the different notions of causality are properly distinguished, it is clear that functionalism is in no serious philosophical trouble, and that we need not choose between reducing minds or finding them causally impotent. The metaphysical challenge to functionalism relies, in particular, on a naïve and inaccurate conception of the practice of physics, and the relationship between physics and metaphysics. Key Words: explanation; functionalism; mental causation; metaphysics; reductionism. (shrink)
: This paper contains the analysis of nine interviews with UK scientists on the topic of scientific models. Scientific models are an important, very controversially discussed topic in philosophy of science. A reasonable expectation is that philosophical conceptions of models ought to be in agreement with scientific practice. Questioning practicing scientists on their use of and views on models provides material against which philosophical positions can be measured.
The age-old maxim of scientists whose work has resulted in deadly or dangerous technologies is: scientists are not to blame, but rather technologists and politicians must be morally culpable for the uses of science. As new technologies threaten not just populations but species and biospheres, scientists should reassess their moral culpability when researching fields whose impact may be catastrophic. Looking at real-world examples such as smallpox research and the Australian “mousepox trick”, and considering fictional or future technologies (...) like Kurt Vonnegut’s “ice-nine” from Cat’s Cradle, and the “grey goo” scenario in nanotechnology, this paper suggests how ethical principles developed in biomedicine can be adjusted for science in general. An “extended moral horizon” may require looking not just to the effects of research on individual human subjects, but also to effects on humanity as a whole. Moreover, a crude utilitarian calculus can help scientists make moral decisions about which technologies to pursue and disseminate when catastrophes may result. Finally, institutions should be devised to teach these moral principles to scientists, and require moral education for future funding. (shrink)
Debates about new technologies, such as crop and food genetic modification, raise pressing questions about the ways ‘experts’ and ‘ nonexperts’ communicate. These debates are dynamic, characterized by many voices contesting numerous storylines. The discoursal features, including language choices and communication strategies, of the GM debate are in some ways taken for granted and in others actively manipulated by participants. Although there are many voices, some have more influence than others. This study makes use of 50 hours of in-depth interviews (...) with GM scientists, nonexperts, and other stakeholders in the GM debate to examine this phenomenon. We uncover rhetorical devices used by scientists to characterize and ultimately undermine participation by non-experts in areas including rationality, knowledge, understanding and objectivity. Scientists engage with ‘the public’ from their own linguistic and social domain, without reflexive confirmation of their own status as part of the public and the citizenry. This raises a number of interesting ironies and contradictions, which are explored in the article. As such, it provides valuable insights into an increasingly important type of discourse. (shrink)
The growing threat of the misuse of science and technology for terrorist or criminal purposes has led scientists, institutions, professional organizations, funding agencies, journals, and governments to consider how best to control research that can be readily used to cause significant harm to public health, the economy, the environment, or national security, also known as dual use research. This commentary argues that scientists can regulate dual use research, provided that they are committed to developing effective dual use policies (...) and a culture of shared responsibility. (shrink)
Recent summaries of psychologist James H. Leuba's pioneering studies on the religious beliefs of American scientists have misrepresented his findings and ignored important aspects of his analyses, including predictions regarding the future of religion. Much of the recent interest in Leuba was sparked by Edward J. Larson and Larry Witham's commentary in Nature , “Scientists Are Still Keeping the Faith.” Larson and Witham compared the results of their 1996 survey of one thousand randomly selected American scientists regarding (...) their religious beliefs with a similar survey published eighty years earlier by Leuba. Leuba's original studies are themselves problematical. Nonetheless, his notion that different fields of science have different impacts on the religion‐science relationship remains valid. Especially significant is his appreciation of religion as a dynamic, compelling force in human life: any waning of traditional beliefs does not mean a decrease in religious commitment but calls for a new spirituality in harmony with modern scientific teachings. Leuba's studies, placed in proper context, offer a broad historical perspective from which to interpret data about religious beliefs of scientists and the impact of science and scientists on public beliefs, and opportunity to develop new insight into the religion‐science relationship. (shrink)
There are two reasons, I claim, scientists do and should ignore standard philosophical theories of objective evidence: (1) Such theories propose concepts that are far too weak to give scientists what they want from evidence, viz., a good reason to believe a hypothesis; and (2) They provide concepts that make the evidential relationship a priori, whereas typically establishing an evidential claim requires empirical investigation.
The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Dialogue on Science, Ethics, and Religion (DoSER) program has embarked on an exciting project, “Scientists and Religious Communities: Investigating Perceptions to Build Understanding.” The project will provide the first quantitative data on the underlying assumptions and concerns that shape national attitudes on science. A nationally representative survey conducted in collaboration with sociologists at Rice University has reached 10,000 people, including evangelical Christians, mainline Protestants, Catholics, and Jews. The survey probed how (...) a broad range of religious people, particularly evangelical Christians, understands and thinks about science, and what they perceive about scientists. Scientists, broadly defined, were likewise surveyed to gauge their perceptions of how religious people regard science. The goal for AAAS is to increase understanding between the scientific and evangelical Christian communities and redefine this critical relationship. DoSER will bring together leaders from scientific and evangelical communities to discuss the implications of survey results and to use them for building better understanding and communication strategies. Building relationships between scientists and religious communities has the potential to create a new paradigm of understanding. Finding out what each group actually thinks, through a survey, is only the beginning. (shrink)
The authors examine several issues in teaching phenomenology to advanced researchers who are doing qualitative research using phenomenological interview methods in disciplines such as psychology, nursing, or education, and to advanced researchers in the cognitive neurosciences. In these contexts, the term "teaching" needs to be taken in a general and non-didactic way. In the case of the first group, it involves guiding doctoral students in their conception and design of a qualitative methodology that is properly phenomenological. In the case of (...) the second, it is more concerned with explaining the relevance of phenomenology to an audience of experimental scientists via conference presentations or published papers. In both cases, however, the challenge is to make clear to the relevant audience what phenomenology is and how it can relate to what they are doing. (shrink)
Despite a widespread impression that the public is woefully ignorant of science and cares little for the subject, U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) surveys show the majority are very interested and understand that they are not well informed about science. The data are consistent with the author’s view that the popularity of pseudoscience does not indicate a rejection of science. If this is so, opportunities for scientists to communicate with the public promise a more rewarding result than is commonly (...) believed among scientists. In fact, the increasing visibility of science in the mass media correlates with a slow, steady improvement in public understanding of science in recent years. (shrink)
Religion, defined as ‘the idea of a state that transcends ourselves and our world and the working out of the consequences of that idea’, may influence the ethical thinking of scientists and engineers in two ways. The first is at the level of the individual and how personal beliefs affect the choice of research, design or development projects, relationships with other researchers and the understandings of the consequences of research on other aspects of life. The second level is that (...) of the social and cultural setting in which scientists and engineers work; how society decides which research to sponsor, how to apply the results of scientific discovery and which technology it chooses to develop and for what purposes. In neither of these areas is religious belief a necessary condition for scientists and engineers to pursue one course of action rather than another. The existence of religious belief within the individual and society is, though, part of the ethical framework in which scientist and engineers work and therefore something to which attention should be paid. Religion provides a particular perspective on what should be. Conversely science and technology provide information on the nature of the person and the universe in which we live, which must be taken into account when theologians and religious moralists apply their ethical norms and principles. (shrink)
Despite a recent economic downturn, there is considerable political and industry pressure to retain or even increase the number of scientists in the UK and other developed countries. Claims are made that the supply of scientists (including engineers and mathematicians) is crucial to the economy and the health of the nation, and a large number of initiatives have been funded to address the problem. We consider these claims in light of a re-analysis of existing figures from 1986 to (...) 2009, for young scientists passing through education and into employment. Science graduates are heavily stratified by social origin, and this sorting takes place during initial schooling just as it does with other 'prestige' subjects. The majority of science graduates then move into initial occupations that are not directly related to their degree, suggesting that at this stage of life at least, the demand for scientists trained in specific areas is more than met by existing numbers. We have no reason to believe that the situation is different to other vocational and non-vocational subjects, so perhaps science is not as special as politicians and business leaders imagine. Perhaps young people are put off careers in science by their education. Or perhaps the incentives are not right, leading to the 'wrong' kinds of students in science, and so wastage and inefficiency in the supply process. More pertinently, perhaps this vocational outcome is not how a developed country should assess the value and importance of scientific knowledge among its population. (shrink)
Research scientists are trained to produce specialised bricks of knowledge, but not to look at the whole building. Increasing public concern about the social role of science is forcing science students to think about what they are actually learning to do. What sort of knowledge will they be producing, and how will it be used? Science education now requires serious consideration of these philosophical and ethical questions. But the many different forms of knowledge produced by modern science cannot be (...) covered by any single philosophical principle. Sociology and cognitive psychology are also needed to understand what the sciences have in common and the significance of what they generate. Again, traditional modes of ethical analysis cannot deal adequately with the values, norms and interests activated by present-day technoscience without reference to its sociological, political and economic dimensions. (shrink)
Extended Report from Working Group 5: Social Responsibility of Scientists at the 59th Pugwash Conference on Science and World Affairs in Berlin, 1–4 July 2011 Content Type Journal Article Pages 1-10 DOI 10.1007/s11948-011-9324-9 Authors Tom Børsen, Department of Learning and Philosophy, Aalborg University, Copenhagen, Lautrupvang 2, DK-2750 Ballerup, Denmark Journal Science and Engineering Ethics Online ISSN 1471-5546 Print ISSN 1353-3452.