Ethics and Politics of Science, Technology and Medicine
Paper manager: Stephen John
|Thu 11am (weeks 1–4)|
|The Politics of Science: Historical and Contemporary Debates|
Nick Jardine, Stephen John
|Wed 12noon (weeks 1–8)|
|Law and Science|
|Mon 2pm (weeks 1–4)|
|Fri 10am (weeks 1–4)|
|Values, Wellbeing and Policy|
|Fri 10am (weeks 5–8)|
|The Sociology of Scientific Knowledge|
|Wed 10am (weeks 1–4)|
Science, technology and medicine play a central role in the modern world. However, there are many on-going political and ethical controversies over the role they ought to play. These include debates over whether, when and how, ethical and political values should shape scientific research and practice, and over when and how scientific results and new technologies should be used. Furthermore, these important disputes relate to more fundamental questions about the relationship between truth, values and objectivity. The aim of this paper is to introduce students to both practical and theoretical debates over the politics and ethics of science and to examine their inter-relationships.
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fourth Assessment Synthesis Report, 2007
Stephen John (4 seminars, Michaelmas Term)
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is an independent body, founded by the United Nations Environment Programme and the World Meteorological Organisation. The aim of the IPCC is to analyse and synthesise research on climate change with the aim of producing useful results for policy-makers. So far, it has produced four major reports, synthesising the most recent scientific research on climate change, the most recent published in 2007. For this work, the IPCC received the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize. Although officially a 'policy neutral body', producing mere summaries of state-of-the-art knowledge, the IPCC's work is extremely controversial. In this Primary Source, students will be encouraged to study the Report from a wide variety of angles. Key topics arising from the report include: the status of the report as a 'scientific document'; the internal political workings of the IPCC, and how these may influence the report; the nature of 'risk' estimates used in the environmental sciences; the potential relationships between climate science research and the ideals of 'value free science', on the one hand, and of 'evidence based policy-making' on the other; the relationship between the report and models of science communication, and models of deference to expert testimony; and the potential policy responses to the Report's findings. Through studying these issues, students will investigate not only one of the most controversial contemporary policy debates, but should also gain the tools and skills to conceptualise the political uses and mis-uses of science, and the complex inter-relationships between science and politics more generally.
The Politics of Science: Historical and Contemporary Debates
Nick Jardine, Stephen John (8 lectures, Michaelmas Term)
Philosophers, historians and sociologists of science have proposed many different models of how scientific research does and should relate to social, political and educational concerns. The aim of this course is to introduce students to some of the most influential models. The first part of the course provides an oversight of how thinkers in the nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries understood the relationship between science and political concerns. The second part of the course focuses on more recent debates over the extent to which science can and should be free of political concerns. In these lectures, we first look at debates over the proper role of political considerations in the funding of research, using Philip Kitcher's work as a starting point. We then go on to look at arguments over whether political values should influence our research methods, building on Heather Douglas's work on the problem of inductive risk. Finally, we look at debates over the promulgation and uses of scientific research, discussing recent arguments over the role of scientific expertise in policy and educational contexts.
Law and Science
David Feller (4 lectures, Michaelmas Term)
This course is designed to inform scientists about the ways the law looks at, forms and guides their work, and inform non-scientists of the ways in which those processes affect their lives on a daily basis. It is intended that the course will provide a basic description of common legal systems, and by looking at case studies – specific topics where the law and science have converged – demonstrate in real terms how those processes play out. Specifically, we examine how science and technology are defined and addressed by the law; how science and technology affect the law in lawmakers' offices and in the courts; how the law defines science; how science is used in the courts; and the problems raised for local courts by the globalization of science.
Tim Lewens (4 lectures, Lent Term)
The aim of this course is to introduce students to philosophical debates over the conduct of medical research and the uses of medical technologies. In discussing these issues, we touch upon important topics, including the proper role of consent in research, the distinction between research, treatment and enhancement, and the ethics of new genetic technologies.
Values, Wellbeing and Policy
Anna Alexandrova (4 lectures, Lent Term)
A venerable tradition in philosophy of science maintains that it should be value free. However this ideal is particularly hard to sustain in the case of the social sciences, where concepts such as poverty, health, crime, rationality and well-being all presuppose substantive moral and political values. What sort of value freedom should we aim at in the social sciences? Are values and objectivity compatible? When social scientists study happiness and well-being, what sort of definitions and measures should they use? And should this knowledge inform public policy?
The Sociology of Scientific Knowledge
Simon Schaffer (4 lectures, Lent Term)
This course introduces the sociology of scientific knowledge (SSK). We describe some basic sociological concepts which help us understand the work of the sciences: how scientists observe and classify the world, the way they organise their communities and perform experiments, the places where they work and the links between them. This discussion of SSK provides themes for philosophical discussion of social explanation and for historical approaches to past sciences.
- Barnes, Barry, David Bloor & John Henry, Scientific Knowledge: A Sociological Analysis (London, 1996)
- Buchanan, Brock, Daniels & Wickler, From Chance to Choice: Genetics and Justice (Cambridge, 2000)
- Collins, Harry & Trevor Pinch, The Golem: What Everyone Should Know about Science (Cambridge, 1993)
- Collins, Harry & Trevor Pinch, The Golem at Large: What Everyone Should Know about Technology (Cambridge, 1998)
- Douglas, Heather, Science, Policy and the Value-Free Ideal (Pittsburgh, 2009)
- Foley, E, The Law of Life and Death (Harvard, 2011)
- Goldberg, S, Culture Clash: Land Science in America (New York, 2009)
- Golinski, Jan, Making Natural Knowledge (Chicago, 2005)
- Huber, Peter, Galileo's Revenge: Junk Science in the Courtroom (New York, 1993)
- Irwin, Allan, Citizen Science: A Study of People, Expertise and Sustainable Development (Routledge, 1995)
- Jasonoff, Sheila S, Science at the Bar (Cambridge, MA, 1995)
- Fox Keller, Evelyn & Helen E Longino (eds), Feminism and Science (Oxford, 1996)
- Kitcher, Philip, The Lives to Come (Penguin, 1996)
- Kitcher, Philip, Science, Truth and Democracy (Oxford, 2001)
- Latour, Bruno, Science in Action (HUP, 1987)
- Law, John & Peter Lodge, Science for Social Scientists (Macmillan, 1984)
- Nelkin, Dorothy, Selling Science: How the Press Covers Science and Technology, revised edn (New York, 1995)
- Pielke, Roger, The Honest Broker (Cambridge, 2007)
- Sunstein, Cuss, Risk and Reason: Safety, Law and the Environment (Cambridge, 2002)
- Tuana, Nancy (ed), Feminism and Science (Indiana University Press, 1989)
- Turnbull, David, Masons, Tricksters and Cartographers (Macmillan, 2000)
- Vos, Megan E, Uncertain Risks Regulated: Facing the Unknown in National, EU and International Law (Routledge, 2009)
- Winter, G, Multilevel Governance of Global Environmental Change: Perspectives from Science, Sociology and the Law (Cambridge, 2011) [selected chapters]