Objectivity in Science

June 17-20, 2010

University of British Columbia

Over the past two decades questions have arisen regarding the objectivity of specific projects in or fields of science: for example, can we trust medical research when it is funded by pharmaceutical companies? Or, whose research in climate science meets the standards of scientific objectivity? Such questions have become important in framing public debate about science and science policy. At the same time, the objectivity of science has become an increasingly important topic among historians and philosophers of science as well as researchers in other fields in science and technology studies (STS) such as sociology of science, rhetoric of science, and cultural studies of science. This conference seeks to advance scholarly perspectives on the objectivity of science by bringing them into conversation with one another. The conference also asks whether and how such scholarly perspectives on objectivity might or should inform public debate. The conference will investigate, moreover, how the specific concerns of scientists, science policy experts, science journalists, and other groups might be made more salient in the research of the STS community. The goal of this conference, thus, is to provide a forum for STS researchers of diverse disciplinary backgrounds, practicing scientists, and other researchers to discuss and debate issues concerning the nature of objectivity in science. A particular concern will be to discuss how, when, and why questions of objectivity arise within science, in science policy debates, and in public engagement with science. In addition to conference sessions held during the day, this conference will feature two evening panel discussions, open to the public and focused on particular areas of research wherein the issue of scientific objectivity is particularly salient. The public panel discussions will focus on questions of objectivity in collaborative aboriginal research and in research on harm reduction.

The keynote speakers are Professor Peter Galison (Harvard University), Professor Ian Hacking (University of Toronto and the Collège de France) and Professor Naomi Oreskes (University of California at San Diego).


We welcome individual paper and panel submissions related to the theme of scientific objectivity.

Proposals for papers should include author information (including email address), paper title, and an abstract of no more than 500 words. Speakers will have 30 minutes to present and discuss their work. Proposals for panel sessions should include the name of the panel organizer (including email), a brief description of the panel, author information, paper titles, and abstracts for each paper. Panel sessions will be ninety minutes in duration, including discussion time.

Program Committee: Alan Richardson (UBC), Robert Brain (UBC), Candis Callison (UBC), Lesley Cormack (Simon Fraser University), Flavia Padovani (UBC), and Jonathan Tsou (Iowa State University).

The deadline for paper and panel submissions is January 1, 2010. Please email submissions to Dani Hallet at: [email protected]

The conference website is under construction at: objectivity2010.ca

The Objectivity in Science Conference is sponsored by the Situating Science Cluster Grant: www.situsci.ca