How Money Affects the Norms of Science

Tony O’Brien in Metapsychology:

0195309782_01_mzzzzzzzThe theme of The Price of Truth is that the ideal of science as the objective, disinterested pursuit of knowledge is just that, an ideal, and that modern science is intimately tied up with the business world, and with financial incentives of one sort or another. While there are some who would see this state of affairs as a travesty, Resnik is more pragmatic. Drawing on examples of classical scientists, and from the current practice of science, Resnik argues for a middle road, one in which there can be room for financial incentives to encourage science, but where there are adequate restraints on the excesses of money to maintain the more communitarian goals of science. This position does not come without warnings, however. There are real risks from conflicts of interest, and ample evidence that in the absence of safeguards, these risks will come to fruition. Resnik canvasses the issues and calls for a balanced approach. Fittingly for a book on science, Resnik’s is a voice of reason, and if his call for balance doesn’t satisfy supporters of lasseiz-faire libertarians or principled conservatives, this is probably no bad thing. As Resnik is fond of saying, the truth lies somewhere in between.

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