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Two conceptions of the sources of conservatism in scientific research

Bedessem, Baptiste (2019) Two conceptions of the sources of conservatism in scientific research. [Preprint]

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Abstract

The issue of the conservatism of scientific research questions the nature and the role of the
internal and external forces controlling the emergence of new research questions or problems,
the exploration of risky directions of research, or the use of risky research methods. This
issue has recently gained a new framing in connection with the growing importance of the
peer-review process and of the social and economic pressures weighing on the funding of
scientific research. Current literature then interrogates the external and internal features that
promote what are described as conservative tendencies in scientific research. In this paper, I
propose to contribute to this debate by clarifying what might be internal sources of
conservatism in science; that is, that are inherent to the research process itself. I distinguish
two possible understandings of the sources and manifestations of this internal conservatism. I
first present a representational description of the nature and origin of conservatism in science,
which brings to the fore the difficulties researchers find in setting aside their conceptual
framework. I then offer for consideration a larger perspective on conservatism by arguing for
the existence of a practical conservatism generated by all the dimensions of scientific
activities. In this framework, conservatism in science can be explained by the tendency of all
practices to close in on their own local objectives. I illustrate this view by reference to an
historical episode: the discovery of the chemical nature of genes by Avery.


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Item Type: Preprint
Creators:
CreatorsEmailORCID
Bedessem, Baptiste
Keywords: scientific change; conservatism; practical turn; pragmatism; research policy.
Subjects: General Issues > Science and Policy
General Issues > Social Epistemology of Science
General Issues > Theory Change
Depositing User: Dr Baptiste Bedessem
Date Deposited: 21 Nov 2019 05:14
Last Modified: 21 Nov 2019 05:14
Item ID: 16642
DOI or Unique Handle: https://doi.org/10.1007/s11229-019-02479-0
Subjects: General Issues > Science and Policy
General Issues > Social Epistemology of Science
General Issues > Theory Change
Date: 11 November 2019
URI: https://philsci-archive-dev.library.pitt.edu/id/eprint/16642

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