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Commercial Interests and the Erosion of Trust in Science

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 January 2022


The article examines the idea that commercialized science is a central factor in the erosion of trust in science. I claim that commercial interests have a negative impact on the trustworthiness of science by leading the public to mistakenly trust or distrust scientific results. I identify two mechanisms. First, commercial interests can directly encourage the production of consensus or dissent that is industry friendly but not epistemically reliable. Second, commercial interests support a narrow understanding of trustworthiness that allows the industry to claim that their research is reliable when it is not. A more fine-grained analysis is needed.

Values, Policy, and Social Epistemology
Copyright © The Philosophy of Science Association

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The author would like to thank Sharon Crasnow, Kristen Intemann, and Inmaculada de Melo-Martín for organizing the PSA symposium Bridging the Gap between Science and the Public, as well as the organizers and participants of the 2018 PSA meeting in Seattle, especially Naomi Scheman, whose comments importantly contributed to the improvement of the article. Special thanks also to Sharon Crasnow and Hugh Lacey for their comments on previous drafts.


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