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Exploration and Exploitation in Scientific Inquiry: Towards a Society of Explorers

Kaaronen, Roope Oskari (2018) Exploration and Exploitation in Scientific Inquiry: Towards a Society of Explorers. [Preprint]

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Abstract

This essay argues that scientific systems have two main functions typical to self-organising adaptive and complex systems: Exploration for and exploitation of information. The self-organising nature, or spontaneous order, of scientific systems was prominently conceived by polymath Michael Polanyi. Revisiting Polanyi’s philosophy of science reveals why scientific freedom is still today as important a value as ever, even though the notion of “freedom” itself must be revised. Namely, freedom of inquiry should serve to maintain a diverse and adaptive balance between exploration (for knowledge) and exploitation (of knowledge). This essay argues that current trends within science policy and scientific communities, from impact assessments to targeted research funding, are often inherently biased towards advancing exploitative functions over explorative activities. Concerns are raised over whether these exploitative biases suppress the explorative nature of scientific inquiry, and thus disturb the self-organisation of scientific systems by favouring hasty and sometimes negligent exploitation. Further concerns are raised as to whether these impaired adaptive capacities of scientific systems lead to reduced resilience of broader society. Finally, Polanyi’s vision of a Society of Explorers, where free exploration is vindicated and safeguarded, is revived in a 21st century context.


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Item Type: Preprint
Creators:
CreatorsEmailORCID
Kaaronen, Roope Oskariroope.kaaronen@helsinki.fi0000-0002-2414-6974
Keywords: exploration and exploitation, science policy, academic freedom, complex systems, Michael Polanyi
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Complex Systems
General Issues > History of Philosophy of Science
General Issues > Philosophers of Science
General Issues > Science and Society
General Issues > Science Policy
Specific Sciences > Sociology
General Issues > Thought Experiments
General Issues > Values In Science
Depositing User: Roope Oskari Kaaronen
Date Deposited: 16 Nov 2018 05:20
Last Modified: 16 Nov 2018 05:20
Item ID: 15343
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Complex Systems
General Issues > History of Philosophy of Science
General Issues > Philosophers of Science
General Issues > Science and Society
General Issues > Science Policy
Specific Sciences > Sociology
General Issues > Thought Experiments
General Issues > Values In Science
Date: 15 November 2018
URI: http://philsci-archive.pitt.edu/id/eprint/15343

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