Monday, 29 June 2015

Science 2.0 as a Neoliberal Program

Lecture by Philip E. Mirowski, Professor of Economics and the History and Philosophy of Science at the University of Notre Dame USA

‘Openness’ is the virtue of choice of our current electronic condition; nowhere has this captured the epistemic imagination with greater mesmerizing power than in the case of modern science. Science used to be the cloistered province of experts, or so the story goes: scientists conceived of their projects either in solitary meditation or in small invisible colleges, after fulfilling a period of training and apprenticeship; their choice of inspiration was largely idiosyncratic (which used to be graced as ‘genius’); their collection of data and survey of the prior written archive happened largely outside the limelight; the outlines of their cogitations only became public after it had been written up and promoted in public conferences or disciplinary journals; further commentary and evaluation was also rather rigorously stage-managed, often taking place behind closed doors.

In his lecture Mirowski explores the political economy of ‘Science 2.0' and the ways in which it denies the importance of politics in pursuit of on explicitly political agenda. It would be misguided to infer that Science 2.0 is being driven by some technological imperative to ‘improve’ science in any coherent sense. Rather, the objective of each and every internet innovation in this area is rather to further impose neoliberal market-like organization upon the previously private idiosyncratic practices of the individual scientist. He concludes that Open Science 2.0 does not exist to democratize or otherwise improve research. Rather, it is engineered to position a few large firms at the electronic portals of the modern commercialization of knowledge.

Philip E. Mirowski is Carl Koch Professor of Economics and the History and Philosophy of Science at the University of Notre Dame USA, since 1990.

The presentation is part of the lecture series „Science and Society: will all remain different?“, organized by the International Centre for Higher Education Research (INCHER) of the University of Kassel and the WZB Research Group Science Policy Studies. The event series aims at discussing currently hot issues of the science system, which are of interest for both, science studies and science policy.