Brown, Matthew J.

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Matthew J. Brown is Professor of Philosophy and Director of the Center for Values in Medicine, Science, and Technology. His general area of research interest is in the Philosophy of Science and specifically includes:

  • The nature of models and of scientific evidence
  • The role of experiment in the scientific process
  • The study of John Dewey's writings on scientific method and the logic of inquiry
  • Paul Feyerabend's critical and positive work on method and models
  • The history and philosophy of psychology and cognitive science, both the early history (1880-1940), and in recent debates in cognitive science related to the emergence of theories of cognition called social, distributed, extended, etc.
  • The nature of evidence, where I set out a model of evidence that is functionalist, complex, dynamical, and contextual
  • The science and democracy relevant both to debates about the democratization of science and to initiatives for evidence-based public policy

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    Ethics as a Rare Bird: A Challenge for Situated Studies of Ethics in the Engineering Lab
    (Routledge, 2019-04-25) Lee, Eun Ah; Gans, N. R.; Grohman, Magdalena G.; Brown, Matthew J.; 0000-0002-5361-5143 (Brown, MJ); 0000-0009-4356-7464 (Lee, EA); Lee, Eun Ah; Grohman, Magdalena G.; Brown, Matthew J.
    Engineering ethics cannot be reduced to the ethics of individual engineers but must be considered in situ, within the sociocultural and environmental contexts of a research or design project. We studied teams in academic engineering research laboratories and how they understood and practiced ethics in their own work. Problems arise for ethnographic methods for researching this aspect of engineering ethics; namely, voluntary ethics discussions rarely occurred in the lab. In our field site, we observed many spontaneous discussions, but engineering ethics issues were not among the topics discussed. Ethical decision-making seemed to be like a rare, shy species of bird, hard to spot, requiring methods to flush it out of hiding or attract it. We adapted structured interview and facilitated discussion protocols to accomplish this. Success was modest. The problem lies both in engineering culture and in the methodological difficulties in studying situated, distributed ethical deliberation and responsibility. ©2019 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.

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