03/07/06  (susheyer)  [1 Comments]

Starting with the basics II: ethics of science

I would like to reflect one more issue from the discussion group on the philosophy of science that I am currently a member of. Oeser (2003) stated that it is the task of science to research people's needs. So, first of all, the question is posed, can we really determine what people's needs are? And the second question that arises is, are sciences like marketing that intend to (manipulatively) induce needs in people (rather than finding out what the true needs are) truly sciences, or are they 'just' acting unethically?

The first question I would answer saying that it might be hard for any science to act _ethically_ if the researchers of the science cannot determine themselves what the true needs of the peole are in the first place. Surrounding conditions will influence that decision making process: what institutions offer what kinds of monies for what purposes? What current trends exist that funding agencies find worthy of funding? Agencies sponsor 'progression' no matter what the costs? In these realms, how can it be possible to make decisions about what the true needs of people are, emphasis on people, not organizations. If the sciences depend on funding that is provided by different interest groups, it will be hard to maintain an ethical line of decision making what to research.

My point of view on the second question is that sciences like marketing work to fulfil needs of organizations, industries and companies rather than people. Of course, there are always people behind the organizations, companies etc. However, the frame of an impersonal organization allows people in those organization to act impersonally. Therefore, performing research for an organization justifies researching matters like inducing needs in people. The excuse to say "but the organization needs this information" is always there, which of course doesn't make the science any more ethical.

My conclusion then must be that even though the sciences are supposed to act ethically by researching people's needs, there might hardly be a chance for the sciences to do so due to the surrounding circumstances.


1. Entry

Vom 10/21/12
I find it very interesting to see this alictre as a polar opposite to what we read in the more is better alictre. For that alictre I argued that people miss the point of design when they try to force a style or product down people's throats. This alictre argues for actually getting to know people, I know, what a concept. One thing that people argue with when it comes to ethnography is lumping people together. People like to be seen as individuals, and to be placed in one group can be seen as insulting. The reality is that we do fit into target markets. These markets are not stationary and constant, for instance I joined the Mac market today, so understanding the research is sometimes more than just collecting the numbers every 10 years.My mom's market research company uses this type of information to help companies tailor their services to the consumer. One instance is that people in the southern cow/calf vet clinic ethnographic are very reliant on personal visits from the sales reps and that reps be friendly. In the north, similar vets prefer that communication with the rep be by phone or increasingly by internet. By understanding those needs, companies can not only develop new services, but save money. All those fridges that didn't sell. Yeah its not cheap to have that kind of failure.