Science, Objectivity, and Power

Dr. Anna Leuschner

The project “Science, Objectivity, and Power” addresses topics in research ethics, methodology of science, and social structures in science and academia. It seeks to analyze under which conditions social plurality in science is epistemically fruitful and how this fruitfulness can be cultivated and fostered. The project consists of three main parts.

First, it explores the strengths of social pluralism, particularly Longino’s critical contextual empiricism which is considered the most promising approach how to reveal individual biases and, thus, to warrant objectivity in science. Basically, it invokes the idea of epistemic self-regulation in science through free debates.

Second, it will be argued that even in scientific systems that are organized in a socially pluralistic way (1) implicit biases and (2) power interests can impinge on the scientific endeavour: (1) theory assessment is often subtly biased, thereby systematically excluding members of specific social groups from science and academia; (2) stakeholders try to influence politically relevant sciences or to undermine scientific trustworthiness in the public. Both (1) and (2) cause problems to the idea of social pluralism.

Third, it will be eventually argued that these problems can only be tackled by a combination of regulative and enlightening measures.