The Co-production of Science, Ethics, and Emotion

Science, Technology, and Human Values 37 (6):579-603 (2012)
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The concept of “ethical research” holds considerable sway over the ways in which contemporary biomedical, natural, and social science investigations are funded, regulated, and practiced within a variety of countries. Some commentators have viewed this “new” means of governance positively; others, however, have been resoundingly critical, regarding it as restrictive and ethics bodies and regulations unfit for the task they have been set. Regardless, it is clear that science today is an “ethical” business. The ways in which formal and informal ethical discourses and practices—what might be called “regimes of normativity”—structure scientific work and the meanings it is ascribed with have, however, been underexplored. This article attends to how science and ethics articulate; how they are, in many ways, co-produced. Exploring these processes of co-production casts into sharp relief the essential emotionality of science; the relationships investigators have with their colleagues, work, and research participants pulse with emotion, potentially shaping in important ways the very kinds of knowledge that laboratories produce.



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