The Autonomy of Science
This chapter uses ethical theories and historical case studies to argue for the autonomy of science within limits: namely, for the autonomy of scientists based on their human rights (autonomy of scientists should be restricted only for a compelling social purpose and restriction should be the minimum necessary to achieve this purpose), and for the autonomy of scientific organizations and institutions based on the utility (benefits/harms) of allowing scientific organizations and institutions to be self‐governing. To produce useful results for society, such as knowledge with practical applications and policy implications, scientists should be allowed to make decisions within their domain of expertise, free from outside interference and control. However, autonomy of scientific organizations may be restricted if the social benefits of restrictions outweigh the harms. There are a variety of legitimate reasons for such restrictions, including promoting health and safety, protecting the environment, ensuring financial accountability, promoting research integrity, protecting human and animal research subjects, and establishing fair employment practices. The government should enact restrictions that benefit society while doing minimal damage to science, and government oversight of science should be appropriately balanced, well‐measured, and fair.
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