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General Works in Bioethics, History and Philosophy of Science, and Social and Political Philosophy

Industry Sponsored bibliography header

The specific issue raised by industry-sponsored research intersect with “big questions” about (among other things) the role and obligations of researchers; the institutions that structure research qua political and economic institutions (thus subject to demands of distributive and procedural justice); and even the nature of science as a distinct kind of human activity.  The items in this section provide entry points into these larger issues from within specific problems about industry-sponsored research.  Readers who wish to see the bigger issues behind any specific problem family can start with the items here.  Where to begin depends on the reader’s interest; the entry annotations will provide a guide to the subjects covered by specific items.

Carlson, Robert H. Biology is Technology: The Promise, Peril, and New Business of Engineering Life. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2011: Chs. 10-11.

Carlson’s book gives a good overview of biotechnology, one that is decidedly pro-biotech.  This is good background on how university-industry partnerships figure in the broader biotechnology industry.

Bazell, Robert. Her-2: The Making of Herceptin, a Revolutionary Treatment for Breast Cancer. New York: Random House, 1998.

Bazell tells the story of trastuzumab, a breast cancer drug better known as Herceptin, which was developed through a joint partnership between the biotech firm Genentech and researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles.  The book is an excellent portrait of a particular university-industry partnership and how it affected research on this particular compound, which illustrates many of the issues critics of industry-sponsorship see in these partnerships.

Douglas, Heather E. Science, Policy, and the Value-Free Ideal. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2009.

Estlund, David A. Democratic Authority: A Philosophical Framework.Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2008: Ch. 11.

Kitcher, Philip. Science, Truth, and Democracy. New York: Oxford University Press, 2001: Chs. 9-11, Conclusion.

Pielke Jr., Roger A. The Honest Broker: Making Sense of Science in Policy and Politics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007.

These books discuss the role of expert knowledge in democratic societies.  In the background of much discussion of industry-sponsorship are assumptions about the need for unbiased, objective research to facilitate functioning democratic institutions.  Both Douglas and Estlund argue that expert knowledge is necessary, but no substitute for democratic decision-making in important policy areas (their arguments, though roughly for the same idea, are very different.)  Kitcher also considers the role of expert knowledge, but covers much broader ground, situating his arguments within a general theory of the place and importance of scientific research in a democratic society.  Pielke further develops the “honest broker” model of scientific research, as an ideal for understanding the role of science in democracies.

Hughes, Sally Smith. Genentech: The Beginnings of Biotech. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2011.

This tells the story of the beginnings of the biotech company Genentech, co-founded by Herbert Boyer while he was a professor of biochemistry at the University of California, San Francisco.  Like Her-2, this is a fascinating look at university-industry partnerships “in the wild”, though Genentech talks about the biotech industry in general, and not (just) on one particular episode of university-industry collaboration.  Of particular interest is the discussion of the way in which Boyer’s role in founding the company was made possible by changes in laws regarding technology transfer.

Niiniluoto, Ilkka. “The Aim and Structure of Applied Research.” Erkenntnis 38, no. 1 (1993): 1-21.

Stokes, Donald E. Pasteur’s Quadrant: Basic Science and Technological Innovation. Washington, DC: Brookings Institute Press, 1997.

Discussions of industry-sponsored research often make reference to the distinction between “basic” and “applied” science, but rarely articulate this distinction, nor discuss why maintaining it in practice is important.  Niiniluoto discusses different senses of the distinction present in the literature.  Stokes is the classic work on this topic, and presents a convincing skeptical argument about making a distinction between basic and applied science.  Stokes argues that a great deal of “basic science” actually is what he calls “use-inspired basic research”, and that only by understanding that the distinction is actually much more complicated (in both theory and practice) can we come to an adequate understanding for science policy.