In trying to figure out what ethics ought to guide scientists in their activities, we’re really asking a question about what values scientists are committed to. Arguably, something that a scientist values may not be valued as much (if at all) by the average person in that scientist’s society.
Objectivity is a value – perhaps one of the values that scientists and non-scientists most strongly associate with science. So, it’s worth thinking about how scientists understand that value, some of the challenges in meeting the ideal it sets, and some of the historical journey that was involved in objectivity becoming a central scientific value in the first place. I’ll be splitting this discussion into three posts. This post sets the stage and considers how modern scientific practitioners describe objectivity. The next post will look at objectivity (and its challenges) in the context of work being done by Renaissance anatomists. The third post will examine how the notion of objectivity was connected to the efforts of Seventeenth Century “natural philosophers” to establish a method for building reliable knowledge about the world.
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