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Objectivity and Intellectual Humility in Scientific Research: They’re Harder Than You Think

Cartwright, Nancy; Ray, Faron

Objectivity and Intellectual Humility in Scientific Research: They’re Harder Than You Think Thumbnail


Authors

Faron Ray



Abstract

We begin from the assumption that where scientific research will predictably be used to affect things of moral significance in the world, you have a special duty, a duty of care, to ‘get it right’. This, we argue, requires a special kind of objectivity, ‘objectivity to be found’. What is it that’s to be found? In any kind of scientific endeavour, you should make all reasonable efforts to find the right methods to get the right results to serve the purposes at stake and neither exaggerate nor underestimate the credibility of what you have done. That, we take it, is what in this context constitutes objectivity and intellectual humility. But where your results will affect the world, you have a more demanding duty: a duty to ‘get it right’ about the purposes the endeavour should serve. Often the most morally significant purposes are those that ‘go without saying’ and because they are not said, we can too easily overlook them, sometimes at the cost even of human lives. We illustrate this with the example of the Vajont dam design and the flawed modelling that resulted in the Hillsborough football disaster.

Citation

Cartwright, N., & Ray, F. (2023). Objectivity and Intellectual Humility in Scientific Research: They’re Harder Than You Think. European Review, https://doi.org/10.1017/s1062798723000091

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date May 22, 2023
Online Publication Date Jul 18, 2023
Publication Date 2023
Deposit Date Aug 10, 2023
Publicly Available Date Aug 10, 2023
Journal European Review
Print ISSN 1062-7987
Electronic ISSN 1474-0575
Publisher Cambridge University Press
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
DOI https://doi.org/10.1017/s1062798723000091
Keywords Political Science and International Relations; Geography, Planning and Development
Public URL https://durham-repository.worktribe.com/output/1715001

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Published Journal Article (Online Advance Version) (130 Kb)
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Licence
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

Publisher Licence URL
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

Copyright Statement
© The Author(s), 2023. Published by Cambridge University Press on
behalf of Academia Europaea Ltd. This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative
Commons Attribution licence (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted
re-use, distribution and reproduction, provided the original article is properly cited.





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