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Interests and epistemic integrity in science : a new framework to assess interest influences in scientific research processes

Jan De Winter (UGent)
(2015)
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(UGent) and (UGent)
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Abstract
Non-epistemic interests (e.g., financial interests, political interests) sometimes influence scientific decisions (e.g., hypothesis acceptance, theory choice). For instance, pharmaceutical giant Merck manipulated clinical trial data in order to make sure that these data confirmed the safety of one of its products (Vioxx), as this served the company’s short-term commercial interests. The latter is obviously unacceptable. But why exactly is it unacceptable? One way to account for this is on the basis of the full ideal of purity. According to this ideal, scientific decision-making should be pure, i.e. unaffected by non-epistemic interests. Although this ideal is questionable in light of earlier philosophical work, some philosophers of science still hold on to it, or to a less strict version of it. In part 1 of this dissertation, it is argued that it is better to fully abandon the ideal of purity. In part 2, an alternative ideal to assess interest influences in science is proposed: the ideal of epistemic integrity. A new concept of epistemic integrity is spelled out and systematically defended. Furthermore, the new concept is not only used to analyze the Vioxx debacle, but also to identify unacceptable interest influences in aerospace science and climate science, and to explain why exactly these interest influences are unacceptable.

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Citation

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Chicago
De Winter, Jan. 2015. “Interests and Epistemic Integrity in Science : a New Framework to Assess Interest Influences in Scientific Research Processes”. Ghent, Belgium: Ghent University. Faculty of Arts and Philosophy.
APA
De Winter, J. (2015). Interests and epistemic integrity in science : a new framework to assess interest influences in scientific research processes. Ghent University. Faculty of Arts and Philosophy, Ghent, Belgium.
Vancouver
1.
De Winter J. Interests and epistemic integrity in science : a new framework to assess interest influences in scientific research processes. [Ghent, Belgium]: Ghent University. Faculty of Arts and Philosophy; 2015.
MLA
De Winter, Jan. “Interests and Epistemic Integrity in Science : a New Framework to Assess Interest Influences in Scientific Research Processes.” 2015 : n. pag. Print.
@phdthesis{5807853,
  abstract     = {Non-epistemic interests (e.g., financial interests, political interests) sometimes influence scientific decisions (e.g., hypothesis acceptance, theory choice). For instance, pharmaceutical giant Merck manipulated clinical trial data in order to make sure that these data confirmed the safety of one of its products (Vioxx), as this served the company{\textquoteright}s short-term commercial interests. The latter is obviously unacceptable. But why exactly is it unacceptable? One way to account for this is on the basis of the full ideal of purity. According to this ideal, scientific decision-making should be pure, i.e. unaffected by non-epistemic interests. Although this ideal is questionable in light of earlier philosophical work, some philosophers of science still hold on to it, or to a less strict version of it. In part 1 of this dissertation, it is argued that it is better to fully abandon the ideal of purity. In part 2, an alternative ideal to assess interest influences in science is proposed: the ideal of epistemic integrity. A new concept of epistemic integrity is spelled out and systematically defended. Furthermore, the new concept is not only used to analyze the Vioxx debacle, but also to identify unacceptable interest influences in aerospace science and climate science, and to explain why exactly these interest influences are unacceptable.},
  author       = {De Winter, Jan},
  language     = {eng},
  pages        = {IX, 175},
  publisher    = {Ghent University. Faculty of Arts and Philosophy},
  school       = {Ghent University},
  title        = {Interests and epistemic integrity in science : a new framework to assess interest influences in scientific research processes},
  year         = {2015},
}