In this course, we will consider the interplay between moral, social, and political values on the one hand, and the production and dissemination of scientific knowledge on the other. Through careful reading and in-class discussion, we will address the following questions:
- What is the proper role of values in scientific research?
- What values are or should be driving the distribution of research efforts, the translation of findings in popular media, or the application of scientific knowledge in creating policy?
- Are there certain kinds of scientific research that should not be pursued, such as that which has the potential to harm marginalized groups of people?
- What responsibilities do various stakeholders have (e.g., scientists, journalists, policy makers) in obtaining, translating and applying new knowledge?
To address these questions, we’ll look at recent work in philosophy of science, science studies, sociology, science journalism, and science policy. We’ll take a broad view of science, but most of our examples will be drawn from the biological, biomedical, and behavioural sciences.
The course will be run in a seminar style with informal lectures and lots of discussion. In the last part of the course, you will have the opportunity to apply what you’ve learned to a real-world example of your choosing (from any area of science, related to any of the course topics).