Stine Djørup, Klemens Kappel
December 3, 2013
The aim of the paper is to criticize the widespread view that the norm of disinterestedness is obsolete, and to defend the norm as a viable and plausible norm of scientific practice. Though the norm of disinterestedness has a longer history, it was emphasized by Merton, and subsequent discussions have focused on Merton’s discussion of it. Firstly, the paper will present an overview and critical assesment of the most important interpretations of Merton’s norm of disinterestedness that has been proposed in the literature. Secondly, the paper will rebut some of the major critscisms which has been levelled against the norm of disinterestedness, by demonstrating that these critiscisms has presupposed a variety of implausible interpretations of the norm. As such, the paper will deny that the criticisms give us reason to abandon the norm of disinterestedness in all its interpretations. To the contrary, we will argue that in the most straightforward and natural interpretation, namely by it’s connection to the concept of reliable research, the norm of disinterestedness stands unabated.