Experimentation by industrial selection

Bennett Holman, Justin Bruner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Citations (Scopus)


Industry is a major source of funding for scientific research. There is also a growing concern for how it corrupts researchers faced with conflicts of interest. As such, the debate has focused on whether researchers have maintained their integrity. In this article we draw on both the history of medicine and formal modeling to argue that given methodological diversity and a merit-based system, industry funding can bias a community without corrupting any particular individual. We close by considering a policy solution (i.e., independent funding) that may seem to promote unbiased inquiry but that actually exacerbates the problem without additional restrictions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1008-1019
Number of pages12
JournalPhilosophy of Science
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2017 Dec

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Douglas et al. (2014) suggest that individuals should seek a diverse array of funding. While this would no doubt address some problems at the individual level, our results suggest that simply having an independent agency fund top researchers may actually make things worse. It is worth noting that many industry-funded researchers in the antiarrhythmic drug disaster also received grants from the NIH (Moore 1995). While the prospect of funding agencies ignoring scientific work done during grant assessment might face opposition, it is clear that to address the problem of industry funding we must also consider the community-level effects of policies.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 by the Philosophy of Science Association. All rights reserved.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • History
  • Philosophy
  • History and Philosophy of Science


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