The moral terrain of science, the full range of ethical considerations that are part of the scientific endeavor, has not been mapped. Without such a map, we cannot examine the responsibilities of scientists to see if the institutions of science are adequately constructed. This paper attempts such a map by describing four dimensions of the terrain: (1) the bases to which scientists are responsible (scientific reasoning, the scientific community, and the broader society); (2) the nature of the responsibility (general or role); (3) the level of responsibility (minimum demand or ideal); and (4) who bears the responsibility (the individual or the community). Such a map will be used to elucidate the recent debate over the publication of studies concerning H5N1 flu virus.
KeywordsGeneral Responsibility Institutional Structure Scientific Reasoning Collective Responsibility Role Responsibility
This paper evolved at a series of talks I gave at Center for Interdisciplinary Research (ZiF) at the Universität Bielefeld (at a conference on “The Social Relevance of Philosophy of Science” organized by Martin Carrier and Don Howard), the Department of Philosophy at the University of Cincinnatti (at their 49th Annual Philosophy Colloquium colloquium on socially engaged philosophy of science organized by Angela Potochnik), the Department of Philosophy at the University of Guelph (organized by Maya Goldenberg), and at the Department of Philosophy at the University of Alberta (organized by Ingo Brigandt). My thanks to all those who organized these events and to the audiences who provided such helpful feedback. This paper also benefited from the comments of Doreen Fraser, Marc Lipsitch, Ted Richards, two anonymous referees, and the feedback from my students of PHIL 271 Science in Society Winter 2013 at the University of Waterloo.
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