The continuing need for disinterested research
- Cite this article as:
- Ziman, J. SCI ENG ETHICS (2002) 8: 397. doi:10.1007/s11948-002-0060-z
- 187 Downloads
For scientific knowledge to be trustworthy, it needs to be dissociated from material interests. Disinterested research also performs other important non-instrumental roles. In particular, academic science has traditionally provided society with reliable, imaginative public knowledge and independent, self-critical expertise. But this type of science is not compatible with the practice of instrumental research, which is typically proprietary, prosaic, pragmatic and partisan. With ever-increasing dependence on commercial or state funding, all modes of knowledge production are merging into a new, ‘post-academic’ research culture which is dominated by utilitarian goals. Growing concern about conflicts of interest is thus a symptom of deep-seated malaise in science and medicine.