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Department of History and Philosophy of Science


The Science Communication Reading Group will examine the intersection between issues in HPS and science communication, looking at themes including the history and sociology of science communication, the recent emergence of the 'science' of science communication, and various moral and ethical issues brought about by the complex relationship between science, scientists and society. Each term we will adopt a particular focus on this broad topic.

Meetings are held on Mondays, 4–5pm on Zoom. Organised by Grace Field (gef30) and James Dolan (jad67).

Michaelmas Term 2020: The Ethics of Science Communication

This term we plan to concentrate on the ethics of science communication, addressing questions such as:

  • Should scientists be held morally responsible for communicating their research to the public?
  • In what circumstances, if any, is it permissible for scientists to knowingly mislead the public in order to attain some desired collective action?
  • Are the codes of conduct for performing scientific research appropriate for the communication of that same science to various audiences?

Week 1 (12 October)

Gregory, Jane, and Simon Jay Lock. 'The Evolution of "Public Understanding of Science": Public Engagement as a Tool of Science Policy in the UK'. Sociology Compass 2, no. 4 (July 2008): 1252–65.

Week 2 (19 October)

Royal Society. The Public Understanding of Science. London: Royal Society, 1985.

Week 3 (26 October)

House of Lords Select Committee on Science and Technology. Science and Society. London: HMSO, 2000.

Week 4 (2 November)

Peters, Hans Peter. 'Scientists as Public Experts: Expectations and Responsibilities'. In Routledge Handbook of Public Communication of Science and Technology, edited by Massimiano Bucchi and Brian Trench, Second edition. London; New York: Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group, 2014.

Week 5 (9 November)

Nordmann, Alfred. 'The Ethos of Science vs. Ethics of Science Communication: On Deficit and Surplus Models of Science-Society Interaction'. In Successful Science Communication: Telling It Like It Is, edited by David Bennett and Richard C. Jennings. Cambridge; New York: Cambridge University Press, 2011.

Week 6 (16 November)

Doubleday, Robert. 'Ethical Codes and Scientific Norms: The Role of Communication in Maintaining the Social Contract for Science'. In Practising Science Communication in the Information Age: Theorizing Professional Practices, edited by Richard Holliman. New York: Oxford University Press, 2009.

Week 7 (23 November)

Jamieson, Kathleen Hall. 'The Need for a Science of Science Communication: Communicating Science's Values and Norms'. In The Oxford Handbook of the Science of Science Communication, edited by Kathleen Hall Jamieson, Dan M. Kahan, and Dietram Scheufele. Oxford Library of Psychology. New York, NY, United States of America: Oxford University Press, 2017.

Week 8 (30 November)

Davies, Sarah R. 'Scientists' Duty to Communicate: Exploring Ethics, Public Communication, and Scientific Practice'. In Ethics and Practice in Science Communication, edited by Susanna Hornig Priest, Jean Goodwin, and Michael F. Dahlstrom. Chicago; London: The University of Chicago Press, 2018.