Speak No Evil: Scientists, Responsibility, and the Public Understanding of Science

Abstract

In this paper, I will discuss the responsibilities that scientists have for ensuring their work is interpreted correctly. I will argue that there are three good reasons for scientists to work to ensure the appropriate communication of their findings. First, I will argue that scientists have a general obligation to ensure scientific research is communicated properly based on the vulnerability of others to the misrepresentation of their work. Second, I will argue that scientists have a special obligation to do so because of the power we as a society invest in them as specialists and professionals. Finally, I will argue that scientists ought to ensure their work is interpreted correctly based on prudential, self-interested considerations. I will conclude by offering suggestions regarding policy considerations.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    Thank you to Reviewer #1 for this objection.

  2. 2.

    Thanks to Adam Henschke for raising this point in conversation.

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Correspondence to Nicholas G. Evans.

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Evans, N.G. Speak No Evil: Scientists, Responsibility, and the Public Understanding of Science. Nanoethics 4, 215–220 (2010). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11569-010-0101-z

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Keywords

  • Responsibility
  • Applied ethics
  • Ethics of science
  • Ethics of technology
  • Communication
  • Vulnerability
  • Science communication