The Proceedings of the Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy

Volume 1, 1999


Russell Hardin
Pages 231-245

Ethics in Big Science

In accounts of the ethics of science, we may treat practicing science as an institution of sorts. It has an imputed purpose, roughly, finding the truth about vast classes of causal relations. Scientists have been able to act reasonably with no more than the natural confluence of individual interest with the truth. But in the age of institutionalized science, with career stakes outside the accumulation of scientific findings and with institutional interests often directly conflicting with truth, this ‘natural confluence’ is no longer adequate. Now, incentives must be reinforced from outside the scientist’s personal research arena or the scientist must be normatively governed by a desire for truth. In big science, there is little doubt that a formal regulatory system outside the scientist’s research arena is institutionally easier to design and implement than is the inculcation of an attitude of service.