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Jamie Shaw Colloquium — Freedom, Social Responsibility, and Funding Policy: A New Conception of Applied & Basic Science

Thursday, March 21, 2019
4:00 PM – 6:00 PM
Watson Hall
Room: 517
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The Department of Philosophy Colloquium Series is pleased to present

Jamie Shaw
(Ryerson University)

"Freedom, Social Responsibility, and Funding Policy: A New Conception of Applied and Basic Science"

Date: Thursday, March 21st, 2019

Time: 4:00 pm

Watson Hall, Room 517

While most funding bodies distinguish between ‘applied science’ (i.e., science aimed at serving practical needs) and ‘basic science’ (i.e., science solely concerned with discovering truths about nature), the distinction has been criticized as misleading or incoherent. If correct, this poses a problem for how we categorize the kinds of projects that we fund and has important political implications. The Basic/Applied distinction has been closely aligned with the debate of whether (publically-funded) science should be free from political interference or subservient to democratically determined goals. I argue that the basic/applied distinction, and the concomitant arguments for freedom or social responsibility, remain plausible only in the case of short-term research. As such, only in cases of ‘urgent science’ can this argument for freedom or social responsibility influence funding policy. I conclude by briefly considering the case of research on climate change to shed light on the nature of urgent science.


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