Internal WiP: Dr Nicholas Evans

Risky research and scientific freedom

Dr Nicholas Evans (University of Massachusetts Lowell)

Over the last decade, considerable attention has been paid to the funding and publication of “dual-use” research that has the potential to both benefit or harm humanity. A contested feature of the debate is the degree to which security concerns outweigh scientific freedom, and provide a justification for refusing to fund, or even censoring scientific research. In this talk, I address three possible justifications for strong protections on scientific freedom: 1) rights to freedom of speech and inquiry; 2) the relationship between inquiry and (beneficial) innovation; 3) concerns about the corrupting influence of restrictions on scientific inquiry. I argue none of these is sufficiently strong to reject all kinds of threat posed by dual-use research, but provide useful constraints on dual-use policies. I then address further implications for science policy that emerge from a principled notion of scientific freedom.

Venue: Petrov Room, Suite 1 Littlegate House, 16-17 St Ebbe's Street, Oxford OX1 1PT

Booking: not required – internal only