Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Mathis Hampel: Models of good scientific conduct

A guest comment by Mathias Hampel

There has been a lot of talk about proper scientific conduct on klimazwiebel. From the literature we can discern 3 historical models of 'good' scientific conduct. I  would be interested to hear the klimazwiebelists' suggestions for a fourth which may be called 'ethical model':

1. The 'Gentleman Model', in a nutshell, science is done by men who are said not to gain anything from claiming untruth, they are neither in for money nor for power. Shortcomings: also gentleman have interests and ideologies. + they were quite exclusive.

2. The 'Mertonian Model': science is practised by Joe Public with all his goods and ills, an a-personal scientific Method be institutionalised and accord to universal norms: e.g., disinterestedness, communism, organised skepticism. Shortcomings: though such norms may be desirable they do not reflect the reality of scientific conduct since science is always done by people whose practices shall be institutionalised. (e.g., what about Jane Public!?)

3. The 'Vigilance Model' shall address shortcomings of the Mertonian Model. Science' credibility is acknowledged to be bound to good practices, e.g., sharing data to forestall negative social relations. Shortcomings: an enforced transparent scientific society can be repressive. Operation successful, patient dead!

4. The 'Ethical model': Since there is a move towards ethics in financing, banking and so forth I was wondering whether a move towards ethical science can be observed?


Harry Dale Huffman said...

As a competent physical scientist, in the midst of a world bent on establishing as law a false, incompetent climate science (the greenhouse effect hypothesis), I say that discussing ethics in science is secondary to stopping that political tyranny, NOW. Independently, scientists must deal with the deeply entrenched incompetence among academics, who allowed this perversion of good science to rise, and to suborn all of our scientific and political institutions and the mass media. The fundamental lesson for all to learn is that even the hard sciences are not immune to the disease of religiously-held dogma masquerading as truth, and such dogma is precisely what has been increasingly allowed to dominate in science.

Anonymous said...

Hallo Herr von Storch,

meine Ansichten hierzu habe ich zu einem früheren Zeitpunkt dargelegt. Leider und ich sage bewußt, leider, wird den postmodernen Veränderungen im Wissenschaftsbetrieb viel zu wenig Raum gegeben. Was passiert, wenn der Ethos der Wissenschaften nicht mehr auf ein sich-der-Wahrheit-annähern gerichtet ist sondern ganz trocken, postmodern zu dekonstruieren gesucht wird?
Was bedeutet das für die Wissenschaft, die Wissenschafter?
Greift hier der Ansatz, dass dann das eigene Weltbild viel bewußter in wissenschaftliches Arbeiten eindringt als es, zu früheren Zeitpunkten oft unbewußt der Fall war?
Was bedeutet Spezifikation in diesem Fall? Wenn nur sehr wenige Wissenschafter in einem wichtigen Forschungsfeld tätig sind, diese postnormal oder postmodern forschen, kann man dann noch von Wissenschaft sprechen?

Fragen über Fragen.


Reiner Grundmann said...

what are the sources for the four models you describe?

The Mertonian and the ethical model seem to overlap considerably. If you take your argument against Merton seriously (i.e. that norms are just that and do not describe reality) then what could an "ethical model" provide?

Mathis Hampel said...

thank you for your comment!

Credits to Steven Shapin, the models I describe are "anglo-saxon" in origin since his works largely deals with the UK and US.

I do not believe in the need of an ethical model to address shortcomings of previous models. After all these are models and merely serve as analytical tools. Sometimes they are taken to legitimise science' authority or to demarcate good from bad science, in particular the Mertonian model since the second world war but more recently also the vigilance model. Notions of the 'gentleman model' may also persist in some fields. Climategate, for example, has shown some ungentlemanly behaviour. To be sure, these models intermingle.

With my question I was rather wondering or provoking sentiments that ask/demand a more ethical approach to science. Whatever that may entail.

Finally I believe that demarcation of science and non-science, good or bad climate science etc. is a practical matter of materialities, norms and discourses.


Martin Mahony said...

This article in the Guardian raises the interesting question of what the trend for 'open science' might mean for the model of the 'scientist'. Are we witnessing a resurgence of the 'gentleman' model?

Mathis Hampel said...