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Science, values, and public policy

Home RESEARCHResearch Group Science, values, and public policy

Science, Values, and Public Policy

How to develop a better understanding of science in society by exploring the interplay of science, values, and public policy

To what extent and in what ways do ethical and social concerns affect the development of science and technology? In recent years, philosophers of science have acknowledged the constructive as well as problematic interactions between science and values as part of a broader attempt to tackle the ethical and political dimensions of science. “Science, Values, and Public Policy” aims to engage with these interactions through an investigation of the interplay between knowledge and values in the development and governance of emerging sciences and technologies. In what ways do emerging sciences and technologies challenge our values? How do we determine the impacts of science and technology on society? Whose values count and in what ways? Decision-making in increasingly pluralistic societies, where citizens might uphold conflicting values, can make it difficult to achieve consensus on policy. How might we address such a difficulty? Should we encourage more public participation in the governance of science and technology? What is the role of ethical argumentation in the development and governance of science and technology?

 

Project

  • Values, pluralism, and emerging technologies.

    Grant Fisher

    How are science and technology policy choices made in pluralistic societies? Stakeholders often possess conflicting fundamental values, which are especially noticeable in the biomedical sciences where ethical disagreements can create significant policy problems. This project aims to probe the status of stakeholder consensus and dissent in the governance of science and technology and evaluates governance strategies adopted in the pursuit of controversial emerging technologies: “technical fixes” to ethical problems, pragmatic convergence of policy goals, responsible innovation, and the use of ethical argumentation in research and in the communication of innovation. What kinds of strategies can best serve science and technology governance?

  • Knowledge and values in exploratory technoscience.

    Grant Fisher

    This project focuses on the until recently neglected idea that technoscientific exploration is topic worthy of philosophical investigation. The research is an attempt to clarify the epistemological, aesthetic, and pragmatic functions of exploration in cultures of technoscientific innovation. Exploration takes many forms and uses various tools, including models, images, computer simulations, chemical compounds, biological systems, techniques of data storage and retrieval, and is often at the forefront of both emerging technologies and controversies in more established areas of technoscience. This project aims to identify and clarify the status of technoscientific exploration, its role in innovation, and to investigate its consequences for policy.

  • Ethics, evidence, and Ebola: Prospects and problems for global health policy.

    Sun Woong Kim and Grant Fisher

    Focusing on the 2013-2015 Ebola virus disease outbreak in West Africa, this project investigates the global health implications of clinical trial design in developing nations. The project explores how research into potential treatments of Ebola on broadly humanitarian grounds have met objections concerning the epistemological veracity of trial design as well as the ethical implications of exploratory studies in developing nations. The project aims to contribute to ethical debates on the role of uncertainty and clinical equipoise in experimental design as well as the ethics of emerging diseases.