Summary of Merton's Destcription of the Rewards System of Science Essay

Summary of Merton's Destcription of the Rewards System of Science Essay

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In this paper I will summarize Merton’s description of the rewards system of science. I will be exploring the unasked question, “What should a good rewards system look like?” I make a normative proposition, based on utility, that we ought to completely separate the laboratories and businesses that provide the tools for scientists from the scientists themselves. I envision a style of science that allows individuals and teams of scientists to engage in open-source science that allows them to contract out their skills to particular institutions and groups that need a scientific service.
I ask not what is good for science, but what is good for scientists? Feyerabend was right to point out the fact that Kuhn might be ignoring individual scientists in his pursuit for a structure of science. While Feyerabend was concerned with what happens to the morals of scientists and Kuhn was concerned with the general structure, I want to explore what will have the most utility for both science and scientists. This will be a restructuring of the rewards system.
Merton claimed that the basic currency for scientific reward is recognition (Godfrey-Smith 123). He argues that the best reward is being the first person to come up with an idea. Merton also claims that this is the only property right in science. The best case scenario is having an idea named after one’s self; i.e. Darwinism, Planck’s Constant, and Boyle’s Law. Merton gives examples that give credence to his idea of a rewards system. He discusses the altercations between Newton and Hooke, and Newton and Leibniz.
Merton suggests that the current system is mostly good in that it encourages original thinking, but that it can misfire when the desire for reward overcomes everything else. Fraud, ...


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... Furthermore, there is an indirect incentive for scientists to avoid excessive jargon and technical speech if they want to attract the general population to certain projects. I believe that if scientists have a financial interest in the education of the general population, and if the general population feels more involved, then we could get many scientific projects that are seen as unprofitable by businesses put into practice. Shelved products, old patents, and very long term projects might find a home in this type of structure. The public finds going to Mars exciting and businesses don't see much potential for financial gains. The potentials impacts of OS on the world are many, far-reaching, and outside the scope of this paper. But if the money raised for Restore the Shore is any indication, then perhaps the public would very much get behind these types of projects.

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