ALS: S. Ruphy
October 9 @ 11:00 am - 1:00 pm
Ecole Normale Supérieure – Université PSL
Science Policies and the Unpredictability of Scientific Inquiry
This talk will be online via Zoom and pre-registration is required.
ABSTRACT: What is the appropriate mode of setting the research agenda? The autonomy of science as regards the choice of its priorities is often defended on the ground that limiting scientists’ freedom to follow their curiosity hampers the epistemic fecundity of science. At the core of this traditional defence of scientific autonomy lies the ‘unpredictability argument’. In a nutshell: the development and the results of a research program being unpredictable, setting external (often utilitarian) goals is deemed counterproductive and vain: one should not attempt to predict the unpredictable. In this talk I will first challenge this argument by showing that a scientific inquiry whose agenda is set externally may actually favor the occurrence of the unexpected. Once epistemological room is made for external, interest-based guiding of scientific inquiry, I will discuss what kind of political constraints is legitimate on the setting of the research agenda.