Virtues of U.S. Scientists Guiding Scientific Practice

Sunday, February 14, 2016: 10:00 AM-11:30 AM
Wilson C (Marriott Wardman Park)
There is a moral core to science that quietly guides its practice and its practitioners. This symposium presents results of a recent U.S. survey of the virtues and values of exemplary scientists. What values constitute and guide scientific practice and what character virtues should scientists aspire to? How are these exemplified and reinforced in the scientific community? How are they acquired and how can they be better transmitted to students of science? To explore scientists’ views on these questions, the Scientific Virtues Project surveyed a random sample of 500 exemplary scientists -- as reflected by membership in the National Academies and other major disciplinary honors -- and a second group of junior scientists. This is the first systematic survey of the values that define a scientist since Robert Merton’s seminal work in the 1940s and 50s. As a profession, science is dedicated to the discovery and understanding of truths about the natural world, and that pursuit should be based on a core set of virtues such as curiosity, honesty, and humility to data. This virtue-based perspective has implications for science education and responsible conduct of research, especially in international scientific collaborations where a common ethical scientific culture is essential.
Robert T. Pennock, Michigan State University
Jon D. Miller, University of Michigan
Karen Meagher, Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues
Jennifer Wiseman, AAAS Dialogue on Science, Ethics, and Religion
Robert T. Pennock, Michigan State University
Scientific Values and Character Virtues
Jon D. Miller, University of Michigan
The State of Scientific Virtues in the United States
See more of: Behavioral and Social Sciences
See more of: Symposia