Reflections on the Scientific Persona and Ethos in Contemporary Technoscientific Culture

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A quite common view is that the scientific persona matters less in contemporary Western knowledge societies. Large research groups produce new scientific discoveries gathered around impersonal expert system. However, it is also well known that scientific cultures differ widely. In physics, the projects are quite impersonal, sometimes including thousands of persons. The prime example is the CERN organization. This is a striking difference compared to chemistry; the laboratory is recognized and the head is awarded. Linus Pauling who got the Nobel Prize in chemistry 1954 and the British chemist Venki Ramakrishnan awarded in 2009 are illustrative examples (Knorr-Cetina, 1999).
This chapter discusses whether personalism is a useful analytic category to analyze the ethical aspects in contemporary technoscience. My claim is that the many uncertainties in technoscientific processes make the virtues of the individual researcher decisive for the outcome and the result. Technoscientific knowledge production is dependent and result from complex interactions between personal professional qualifications, instrumentation, software for visualization and data storing, application and budget knowhow, local politics, career planning, colleagues and network collaborations (Shrum, Genuth, & Chompalov, 2007, p. 210).The outcome of these interactions cannot be predicted in an algorithm. Moreover, personalism can provide a further step from a mere focus on epistemological and ontological uncertainties in the research community, to include ethical questions.
My suggestion is that personalism can be a helpful tool to overcome this dichotomist position that separates the ethical aspect from technoscience and its artifacts. If technologies are seen as inherent moral by mediating human moral behavior, it would press the need for an articulated scientific ethos within the scientific community. For example, a test by a drop of a mother's blood can unlock an unborn child's genetic code and reveal thousands of potential defects. Later in the pregnancy the obstetric ultrasound imaging can make it possible for parents to see whether their unborn baby suffer from a range of diseases.
Titel på värdpublikationPersonalism
RedaktörerPhilip Cronce
FörlagOxford University Press
StatusAccepted/In press - 2014

Ämnesklassifikation (UKÄ)

  • Idé- och lärdomshistoria


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