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Scientific Social Responsibility Maja Horst Copenhagen Business School

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Presentation on theme: "Scientific Social Responsibility Maja Horst Copenhagen Business School"— Presentation transcript:

1 Scientific Social Responsibility Maja Horst Copenhagen Business School

2 Introducing social and ethical concerns in nanotechnological developments 2003: US Congress: 21st Century Nanotechnology Research and Development Act ‘that ethical, legal, environmental, and other appropriate societal concerns … are considered during the development of nanotechnology’ 2004: UK Royal Society/Royal Academy of Engineering: Nanoscience and Nanotechnologies: opportunities and uncertainties ‘A number of the social and ethical issues that might be generated by developments in nanoscience and nanotechnologies should be investigated further’ ‘We believe that a constructive and proactive debate [Public Dialogue] about the future of nanotechnologies should be undertaken now – at a stage when it can inform key decisions about their development and before deeply entrenched or polarised positions appear’

3 Important lessons (1) Loosing credibility by insisting on ’no risk’ ‘Eating British beef is completely safe. There is no evidence of any threat to human health caused by this animal health problem (BSE:Mad Cow Disease)… This is the view of independent British and European scientists and not just the meat industry.. This view has been endorsed by the Department of Health.’ (The Times, May 18, 1990)

4 Important lessons (2) Resistance as ’innovation stopper’

5 Solving controversies over scientific innovation (1) Traditional model of one-way communication Controversies are signs of lack of knowledge As people are educated, they will stop being critical Controversies will cease when knowledge is effectively diffused in society Science Society Model of Diffusion

6 Solving controversies of scientific innovation (2) Controversies are signs of science gone wrong As science comes under control of democracy, it will become legitimate and controversies will cease Science Society Science Society Legitimacy Truth Model of Diffusion Model of Democracy

7 Solving controversies over scientific innovation (3) Science Society Science Society Science Society CredibilityLegitimacy Truth Model of Diffusion Model of Democracy Model of Negotiation

8 Creating credibility and social acceptability through negotiation Science’s monopoly on expertise has been seriously challenged Definition of expertise is contextual and has to be earned New forms of expertise have to be integrated in innovation processes In addition to being true, scientific knowledge also has to be socially robust if it is to result in stable innovations Social acceptability is shaped in processes of negotiation Early involvement of stakeholders will improve the quality of innovation

9 From Research Ethics to Social Responsibility Research Ethics (more narrow) Informed consent Publication ethics to prevent fraud and misconduct Scientific Social Responsibility (more broad) To be accountable to social and ethical values in society Possible areas for concern Return on investment Contributions to a better society through use of knowledge (output focus) Considerations of dual use Adherence to cultural or religious norms Defining research problems based on societal problems, e.g. climate change, pollution, diseases (input focus) Road block or exciting possibility to learn something unexpected?

10 Science in Society Scientific knowledge production Political decision-making Public opinion formation Market exchange

11 HOW IS YOUR RESEARCH PROJECT GROUNDED IN SOCIETY? Groups of five (of your own choice) sit at a table Until 6pm discuss among yourselves


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