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Wishful speaking: science, truth and dictatorship

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In 1948 a meeting at the Lenin Academy of Agricultural Sciences decided that Michurinism – an account of epigenetic inheritance more commonly known as Lysenkoism – was preferable to Mendelianism, with significant implications for teaching and research. Many treat the Lysenko affair as a paradigmatic example of how politics and science should not relate. How, though, should we characterise this case, given recent claims that scientific justification cannot or should not be “value-free”? This paper investigates these issues, arguing that concerns over “wishful speaking” – rather than the more familiar “wishful thinking” – should be central to our thinking about the proper relationship between political institutions and scientific practice.

This talk is part of the CamPoS (Cambridge Philosophy of Science) seminar series.

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