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.
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