Co-responsibility for research integrity

Science and Engineering Ethics 9 (2):273-290 (2003)
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Abstract

To enlarge the discussion of scientific responsibility for research integrity, this paper offers two historico-philosophical observations. First, in the broad history of ideas, modern ethics replaces social role responsibility with appeals to abstract principles; by contrast, discussions within the scientific community of responsibility for research integrity constitute a rediscovery of the continuing vitality of role responsibility. This is a rediscovery from which philosophy itself may benefit. Second, within the context of scientists’ concerns, the idea of role responsibility has undergone significant evolution from “collective responsibility” to the notion of responsibility resting with a “trans-scientific community.” Further challenges nevertheless remain in order to relate scientific role responsibility for scientific integrity to the relationship between science and society. To promote a notion of integrity not just in science but in the science-society relationship, it may be useful to think in terms of a “co-responsibility” for scientific integrity.

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