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Ethics Behav. 1993;3(1):3-72.

Questions of scientific responsibility: the Baltimore case.


A number of cases of questionable behavior in science have been extensively reported in the media during the last two or three years. What standards are upheld by the scientific community affect the community internally, and also affect its relations with society at large, including Congress. Here I wish to address questions of scientific responsibility, using the Baltimore case as a concrete instance where they came up. The first part containing historical background is necessary to provide readers with documentation so that they can have some factual bases on which to evaluate respective positions and my conclusions that follow -- based on further but more succinctly summarized documentation. I have reproduced many quotes because I firmly believe people are entitled to be represented by their own wording. Conversely, I hold people accountable for their official positions. Some of these are reproduced in footnotes, and some longer ones are reproduced in appendices. I also do not ask to be trusted. By providing numerous references, I hope that readers who find my documentation insufficient can follow up by looking up these references.... The article is in six parts: Part I. Historical Background. This part gives mostly a historical background of the early phases of the Baltimore case. Part II. The First Issue of Responsibility. This part presents a discussion of certain scientific responsibilities based on that background, specifically: the responsibility of answering questions about one's work, and the responsibility whether to submit to authority. Part III. The NIH Investigations. This part summarizes the two NIH investigations. Part IV. The Dingell Subcommittee. This part deals with the responsibilities of a Congressional Committee vis-à-vis science. Part V. Further Issues of Responsibility. This part goes into an open ended discussion of many issues of responsibility facing scientists, vis-à-vis themselves and vis-à-vis society at large, including Congress. The list is long, and readers can look at the section and paragraph headings to get an idea of their content. Part VI. Personal Credibility, a Shift at the Grass Roots, and Baltimore's Persistence.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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