Annual Lecture Series (in-person)
Lunchtime Talks (in-person)
- This event has passed.
LTT: H. Douglas
October 15 @ 12:10 pm - 1:30 pm UTC-4
Heather Douglas, Michigan State, Center Senior Fellow
Rethinking the Social Contract for Science
ABSTRACT: The dominant way of thinking about the relationship between science and society has been a “social contract” that grew out of the debates about science funding in the post-WWII US. This social contract presumed that the most public good would come from a “free play of free intellects” in science, supported by the public purse. In exchange for public funds and support, scientists would produce knowledge that would lead to public good, through good advice given by independent experts and through the application of science (either in the military or in the consumer realm, following the linear model for science funding). The job of the scientist was to accept monetary support, do their best scientific work, and provide advice when called; public good would follow. Unfortunately, this conceptual model for the relationship between science and society showed signs of strain by 1980s and has proven deeply inadequate in recent decades. I will review this history before turning to the question of what should replace the social contract for science. I will argue that the idea of a contract between science and society suggests two independent parties coming to an agreement for an exchange. But science is not, and never has been, independent of the society in which it functions. So what norms should structure the policies and expectations around science in society? I will illustrate what answering this question fully would look like with an examination of alternative sets of norms for science advising and science funding.
Please Note: Non-Pitt individuals who want to attend our in-person talks must send an email in advance to Katie Labuda (firstname.lastname@example.org) requesting Guest Building Access, or you will not be able to enter the Cathedral of Learning.
If you’d prefer to watch online, please register here: https://pitt.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_bqltLWfQSFGzbHEfxXwLOw