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From Commodification to the Common Good

Reconstructing Science, Technology, and Society

Hans Radder


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The commodification of science—often identified with commercialization, or the selling of expertise and research results and the “capitalization of knowledge” in academia and beyond—has been investigated as a threat to the autonomy of science and academic culture and criticized for undermining the social responsibility of modern science. In From Commodification to the Common Good, Hans Radder revisits the commodification of the sciences from a philosophical perspective to focus instead on a potential alternative, the notion of public-interest science. Scientific knowledge, he argues, constitutes a common good only if it serves those affected by the issues at stake, irrespective of commercial gain. Scrutinizing the theory and practices of scientific and technological patenting, Radder challenges the legitimacy of commercial monopolies and the private appropriation and exploitation of research results. His book invites us to reevaluate established laws and to question doctrines and practices that may impede or even prohibit scientific research and social progress so that we might achieve real and significant transformations in service of the common good.

Praise For From Commodification to the Common Good: Reconstructing Science, Technology, and Society

“Radder has written a clear and compelling examination of how to address the commodification of science. He discusses such difficult issues as the relationship between science and technology, the nature of scientific knowledge, and the nature of public interest, building an argument for how science should be redirected to serve the public interest, particularly with respect to patenting practices.” —Heather Douglas, Michigan State University 

“In this important and stimulating book, Hans Radder shows why science and technology should be evaluated and governed, not as economic commodities, but with regard to their potential contribution to the common good. Integrating conceptual, normative, and empirical analysis, Radder goes beyond familiar critiques of commodification and offers a meticulous defense of a promising alternative.” —Mark B. Brown, California State University, Sacramento

“Radder makes some provocative claims about the commodification of knowledge that deserve closer examination. . . . his book is well worth the read and I recommend it highly.” —Metascience

“Radder’s book is an important step towards the rehabilitation of the old normative philosophy of science that not just tries to criticize the matter in hand, but also tries to provide useful guides on how to move on for a better future.” —HOPOS

University of Pittsburgh Press, 9780822945796, 246pp.

Publication Date: September 24, 2019

About the Author

Hans Radder is professor emeritus in philosophy of science and technology at the Department of Philosophy of VU University Amsterdam, Netherlands. He is a fellow of the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities and Social Sciences and the Center for Interdisciplinary Research in Bielefeld, Germany.