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Should Some Knowledge Be Forbidden? The Case of Cognitive Differences Research

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 January 2022


For centuries scientists have claimed that women are intellectually inferior to men and blacks are inferior to whites. Although these claims have been contested and corrected for centuries, they still continue to be made. Meanwhile, scientists have documented the harm done to women and blacks by the publication of such claims. Can anything be done to improve this situation? Freedom of research is universally recognized to be of first-rate importance. Yet, constraints on that freedom are also universally recognized. I consider three of these constraints and argue for tighter restrictions on race- and gender-related cognitive differences research on their basis.

Copyright © The Philosophy of Science Association

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For interesting, informative, and very lively exchanges about this material, I am grateful to audiences at the University of Western Ontario, Saint Louis University, Universität Bielefeld, University of Chicago, Lewis and Clark College, and the University of Edinburgh.


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