Feyerabend, funding, and the freedom of science: the case of traditional Chinese medicine

European Journal for Philosophy of Science 11 (2):1-27 (2021)
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From the 1970s onwards, Feyerabend argues against the freedom of science. This will seem strange to some, as his epistemological anarchism is often taken to suggest that scientists should be free of even the most basic and obvious norms of science. His argument against the freedom of science is heavily influenced by his case study of the interference of Chinese communists in mainland China during the 1950s wherein the government forced local universities to continue researching traditional Chinese medicine rather than Western medicine. Feyerabend claims this move was justifiable and, eventually, vindicated by the resulting research which was beneficial for locals and the West at large. The purpose of this paper is to provide a comprehensive overview and analysis on Feyerabend’s views on the freedom of science and his social commentary on US science funding policy that follows therefrom. This proves to be exceedingly difficult because Feyerabend’s writings on the subject are filled with gaps, unnoticed tensions, and cognitive dissonance. Still, I think Feyerabend’s scattered insights and the contradictions that emerge lead to an interesting microcosm of the issues contained in the freedom of science debate.



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Jamie Shaw
University of Toronto, St. George Campus

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A Theory of Justice: Revised Edition.John Rawls - 1999 - Harvard University Press.
Against Method.P. Feyerabend - 1975 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 26 (4):331-342.
The Open Society and its Enemies.Karl R. Popper - 1952 - Revue Philosophique de la France Et de l'Etranger 142:629-634.
Farewell to reason.Paul Feyerabend - 1987 - New York: Verso.

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