Scientific Objectivity And Social Influence (presentation)

HELLMUTH, JOANNA

The aim of the scientific endeavor is to provide systematized knowledge of the natural world in an objective manner. At the same time, however, the statements, ideas and techniques of science are human creations, developed and nurtured through human, and thus social, interactions. In order to isolate the resulting concerns of subjectivity in science, one must first attempt to recognize the role of cultural values and social factors in the conduct of research. Working from observations gathered during a vegetational analysis of the Gywnns Falls watershed, several of the institutionalized motivations and theoretical commitments of those participating have been unearthed. It can then be hypothesized how these factors affect problem choice and more specifically, their role in design modifications in a scientific research program. As purveyors of objective truth, scientists hold a venerated and often unquestioned role in society. Recognizing that the scientific community is self-regulating, our realization of the subtle role of social factors in research become significant, and in fact essential if we are to live up to the ideals and expectations placed upon scientists in our society.