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Scientific misconduct and science ethics: a case study based approach

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The Schön misconduct case has been widely publicized in the media and has sparked intense discussions within and outside the scientific community about general issues of science ethics. This paper analyses the Report of the official Committee charged with the investigation in order to show that what at first seems to be a quite uncontroversial case, turns out to be an accumulation of many interesting and non-trivial questions (of both ethical and philosophical interest). In particular, the paper intends to show that daily scientific practices are structurally permeated by chronic problems; this has serious consequences for how practicing scientists assess their work in general, and scientific misconduct in particular. A philosophical approach is proposed that sees scientific method and scientific ethics as inextricably interwoven. Furthermore, the paper intends to show that the definition of co-authorship that the members of the Committee use, although perhaps clear in theory, proves highly problematic in practice and raises more questions that it answers. A final plea is made for a more self-reflecting attitude of scientists as far as the moral and methodological profile of science is concerned as a key element for improving not only their scientific achievements, but also their assessment of problematic cases.

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Correspondence to Luca Consoli PhD.

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Consoli, L. Scientific misconduct and science ethics: a case study based approach. SCI ENG ETHICS 12, 533–541 (2006).

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