SOPhiA 2018

Salzburgiense Concilium Omnibus Philosophis Analyticis

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Programme - Talk

Social Responsibility and Mercenary Scientists
(Ethics, English)

Scientists are required to act in a socially responsible way. This requirement roots not only in their profession with its freedom and duties, but also in them being part of the society and therefore like every other of its members being responsible to do well when it can reasonably be expected (Shamoo/ Resnik 2015). In my talk I want to face the question whether the case of deceiving mercenary scientists -- paid experts -- counts as scientific misconduct or rather as a questionable research practice and where this classification of the problem might lead us in the discussion concerning possible regulations and quality management.

Philosophers like Hoynigen-Huene point to the ambiguity of social responsibility in its concept and application. Others like Reiser und Bulger highlight seemingly uncontroversial examples for the acceptance of social responsibility. Such as public communication, which contributes to better informed decision making, both on the individual and on the political level. However, industry and mercenary scientists are occasionally manufacturing doubt concerning valid research. Examples for the deliberate construction of scientific disagreement can be found in the context of the discussion of carcinogenic chemicals (e.g. asbestos, benzene, beryllium). Consequently, necessary regulations are not implemented and the goal of protecting the public health is not achieved.


Hoynigen-Huene, P., 1990: Zum Problem der Verantwortung des Wissenschaftlers, unter besonderer Berücksichtigung der Äußerungen Hermann Lübbes hierzu. In: Kleger & Kohler (Hg.): Diskurs und Dezision. Hermann Lübbe in der Diskussion. Wien: PassagenVerlag. 185-200.

Michaels, D. , 2008: Doubt is their Product. New York: Oxford University Press.

Reiser, S., & Bulger R., 1997: The Social Responsibilities of Biological Scientists. Science and Engineering Ethics 3, no. 2, 1997: 137--43.

Resnik, D. & Shamoo, A., 2015: Responsible Conduct of Research. New York: Oxford University Press.

Chair: Sebastian Schmidt
Time: 11:20-11:50, 13 September 2018 (Thursday)
Location: SR 1.007

Julia Mirkin 
(Heinrich-Heine-University Düsseldorf, Germany)

Julia Mirkin is a masters student at the Heinrich-Heine-Universität Düsseldorf. She finished her B.A. 2018 with a major in Philosophy and a minor in Political Science. Her bachelor thesis was about "Value Neutrality, Social Responsibility and the Production of Disease". She works as a student assistant at the Duesseldorf Center for Logic and Philosophy of Science (DCLPS).


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