CamPoS: Cambridge Philosophy of Science

Politics and Ethics of Science 

Researchers in Cambridge work on a huge range of ethical and political problems which arise before, during, and from scientific research – from how the State should allocate research funding to the ethical implications of nano-technology. This research draws on three proud Cambridge traditions: the study of ethics and political philosophy within the Faculty of Philosophy; a long-standing interest in the philosophical implications of the sociology of science in the Department of History and Philosophy of Science; and the epistemology and metaphysics of science in both HPS and Philosophy. In the spirit of the 'Moral Sciences', Cambridge researchers often seek to integrate these three perspectives to give an account of moral science. As such, Cambridge has particular strengths in topics at the intersection of political philosophy and philosophy of science. These include the philosophy of risk, the proper relationship between experts and publics, and the philosophy of public health policy.  

The Department of History and Philosophy of Science currently has particular strengths in the interactions between science and policy, and the Department of Philosophy has particular strengths in philosophical issues surrounding new technologies. Cambridge also contains several related research groups: for example, the Centre for Family Research  has active interests in the ethics of new reproductive technologies; and the Centre for Intellectual Property and Information Law pursues topics related to bio-informatics. At a University-wide level, the new Centre for Science and Policy aims to bring together policy-makers and academics, allowing a unique insight into how science does (or does not) shape policy. Finally, Cambridge is – of course – full of scientists keen to discuss the implications and assumptions of their research. 

Stephen John
October 2012