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Geoscience Communication An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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https://doi.org/10.5194/gc-2020-29
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/gc-2020-29
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Submitted as: research article 29 Jun 2020

Submitted as: research article | 29 Jun 2020

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This preprint is currently under review for the journal GC.

La Commedia Scientifica: Dante and the Scientific Virtues

Anthea R. Lacchia1,2 and Stephen Webster2 Anthea R. Lacchia and Stephen Webster
  • 1Irish Centre for Research in Applied Geosciences, University College Dublin, Dublin, Ireland
  • 2Science Communication Unit, Imperial College London, London, UK

Abstract. The ethical challenges facing contemporary science range from scientific misconduct, to the rightful treatment of people, animals and the environment. In this work, we explore the role of virtue ethics, which concern the character of a person, in contemporary science. Through interviews with thirteen scientists, eight of whom are geoscientists, we identify six virtues in science (honesty, humility, philia, innocence, generosity and reticence), paired with vices, and construct a narrative argument around them. Specifically, we employ the narrative structure of the late medieval poem Divine Comedy, by Dante Alighieri, and draw on its moral universe to explore the scientific virtues. Using this narrative device, we make the case for virtue ethics being a reliable guide for all matters scientific. As such, this work lays out a modern code of conduct for science.

Anthea R. Lacchia and Stephen Webster

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Anthea R. Lacchia and Stephen Webster

Anthea R. Lacchia and Stephen Webster

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Short summary
Ethical issues in science include research misconduct and the rightful treatment of people, animals, the environment and our planet. Based on interviews with thirteen scientists, we identify a framework of virtues, and corresponding vices, in modern science. We employ the narrative structure of the late medieval poem Divine Comedy, by Dante Alighieri, and draw on its moral universe to explore the scientific virtues and the role of virtue ethics in science.
Ethical issues in science include research misconduct and the rightful treatment of people,...
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