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Doing Science in a Pluralistic Society

Virtual Participation: April 17 and 24, 2020

Thank you to all who participated in the virtual colloquium on April 17 and 24. We received many requests to share videos from the talks and are working with the presenters to host these videos online. Please visit the Virtual Participation page for access to these recordings. The buttons near the bottom of this page now include links to Youtube videos of the sessions. These are intended for personal or classroom viewing and include closed captions.

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About the Colloquium

A bit of background regarding our conference title: On November 4, 2010, Dr. David Lemberg, consulting bioethicist and author of Ethical and Legal Issues in Healthcare, presented the invited talk, “Doing Science in a Pluralistic Society,” at the Conference on Communicating Science in Greenville, SC. At that conference, Dr. Lemberg discussed contemporary biomedical ethical issues including stem cell research, the moral status of the embryo, organ biofabrication, and the overall nature of science in the context of the interrelationship between science and society. Since then, philosophers and other scholars of science continue to call for a deeper engagement with the roles that values play in a democratic society.

The latest Statement on Scientific Freedom and Responsibility of the American Association for the Advancement of Science declares that science must be conducted in the interest of humanity. Humanity and its interests, though, are diverse, and a democratic and pluralistic society confronts divergent and sometimes conflicting values that may play various roles in scientific reasoning, practices, and institutions. Scholars and philosophers of science who investigate the roles that values play can provide guidance in answering an array of questions: Is science ineliminably value-laden, or are there particular judgments in science that can be made without implicating social values? When science is value-laden, should fields reflect all divergent values or only the values of some? Through what processes and practices can we determine which and whose values ought to inform science, and at what stage in scientific practice? How should we manage conflicts between different values? And how could or should the institutions supporting science be organized to adequately represent divergent values?

To further develop answers to these questions, University of Dayton is hosting its Baker Colloquium under the theme, “Doing Science in a Pluralistic Society.” The colloquium is a Philosophy Department tradition dedicated to advancing scholarship in a particular area. Talks will engage issues that arise in climate science, agricultural science, environmental science, and science and society more generally, and intend to foster interdisciplinary dialogue among scholars and students from University of Dayton and the broader region.

Keynote Presenters
Heather Douglas

Heather Douglas is an Associate Professor of Philosophy at Michigan State University. Her research focuses on the relationship between science and democracy, including the role of social and ethical values in science, the nature of scientists’ responsibility in and for science, and science-policy interfaces such as science advising, science funding, and science communication. She is interested in how citizens can and should interact with science, including the bases for citizens’ trust in scientists. She has also worked on the nature of objectivity in science and how to weigh complex, non-convergent sets of evidence.

Douglas is the series editor for University of Pittsburgh Press' Science, Values, and the Public series, which features constructive accounts for how we should think about and govern the relationships that shape science in complex, pluralist, democratic societies. She is the author of dozens of articles and essays, several edited collections, and her monograph, Science, Policy, and the Value-Free Ideal (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2009). She is a fellow of the Institute for Science, Society, and Policy at the University of Ottawa, and a member of the Virtual Institute for Responsible Innovation, and a member of the Consortium for Socially Relevant Philosophy of/in Science and Engineering. In 2016, she was elected as a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Hugh Lacey

Hugh Lacey is the Scheuer Family Professor of Philosophy Emeritus at Swarthmore College, and a member of the Research Group in Philosophy, History and Sociology of Science and Technology, Institute of Advanced Studies, University of São Paulo, Brazil. His recent writings have mainly addressed issues concerning the interaction of scientific activities and values, paying particular attention to methodologies of research in agroecology and criticism of using GMOs in agriculture.

Among his publications, in addition to many articles, are the monographs, Is Science Value Free? Values and scientific understanding (Routledge, 1999), Values and Objectivity in Science; Current controversy about transgenic crops (Lexington Books, 2005, Valores e Atividades Cientifícas, (Associação Filosofica Scientiae Studia, São Paulo, vol. 1, 2008; vol. 2, 2010).

Wendy Parker

Wendy Parker is Associate Professor of Philosophy and Co-Director of the Centre for Humanities Engaging Science and Society (CHESS) and the Institute for Data Science (IDAS) at Durham University, UK.

Her research is in the areas of general philosophy of science (models and simulation, evidence, explanation, measurement, values in science) and philosophy of climate science (ensemble modelling, uncertainty assessment and communication, model evaluation, values). Her papers have appeared in a range of philosophical and scientific journals. She is a contributing author for the (in-progress) Sixth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Since 2017, she has been Co-Editor-in-Chief of The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science.

Kevin Elliott

Kevin Elliott is a Professor at Michigan State University with joint appointments in Lyman Briggs College, the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, and the Department of Philosophy. He works at the intersection of the philosophy of science and practical ethics, with particular interests in the role of values in science, management of financial conflicts of interest in research, ethical issues in science communication, and the promotion of inclusivity and successful collaboration in science teams.

He is currently a member of the National Academy of Sciences Committee on Emerging Science for Environmental Health Decisions, and he recently served as the Program Chair for the 2018 Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association. He is the author of a wide variety of journal articles and book chapters, and his books include Is a Little Pollution Good for You? Incorporating Societal Values in Environmental Research (Oxford University Press, 2011), A Tapestry of Values: An Introduction to Values in Science (Oxford University Press, 2017), and (edited with Ted Richards) Exploring Inductive Risk: Case Studies of Values in Science (Oxford University Press, 2017).

Schedule of Events

Our colloquium takes place virtually Friday, April 17 and Friday April 24, 2020.

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Read our presenters' abstracts.

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Special Issue

Many of the talks at the colloquium will be featured in a special issue with Studies in History and Philosophy of Science

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