The Normative Orientations of Climate Scientists


In 1942 Robert K. Merton tried to demonstrate the structure of the normative system of science by specifying the norms that characterized it. The norms were assigned the abbreviation CUDOs: Communism, Universalism, Disinterestedness, and Organized skepticism. Using the results of an on-line survey of climate scientists concerning the norms of science, this paper explores the climate scientists’ subscription to these norms. The data suggests that while Merton’s CUDOs remain the overall guiding moral principles, they are not fully endorsed or present in the conduct of climate scientists: there is a tendency to withhold results until publication, there is the intention of maintaining property rights, there is external influence defining research and the tendency to assign the significance of authored work according to the status of the author rather than content of the paper. These are contrary to the norms of science as proposed by Robert K. Merton.
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