Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics

, Volume 28, Issue 3, pp 243–256 | Cite as

That’s Not Science! The Role of Moral Philosophy in the Science/Non-science Divide



The science/non-science distinction has become increasingly blurred. This paper investigates whether recent cases of fraud in science can shed light on the distinction. First, it investigates whether there is an absolute distinction between science and non-science with respect to fraud, and in particular with regards to manipulation and fabrication of data. Finding that it is very hard to make such a distinction leads to the second step: scrutinizing whether there is a normative distinction between science and non-science. This is done by investigating one of the recent internationally famous frauds in science, the Sudbø case. This case demonstrates that moral norms are not only needed to regulate science because of its special characteristics, such as its potential for harm, but moral norms give science its special characteristics. Hence, moral norms are crucial in differentiating science from non-science. Although this does not mean that ethics can save the life of science, it can play a significant role in its resuscitation.


science non-science normative fraud fabrication 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Section for Medical Ethics, Faculty of MedicineUniversity of OsloOsloNorway
  2. 2.Gjøvik University College, Faculty of Health Care and NursingGjøvikNorway

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