Teaching and learning guide for: The promise and perils of industry-funded research

Bennett Holman, Kevin C. Elliott

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere12549
JournalPhilosophy Compass
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 2018 Nov

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This case presents issues regarding industry funding and scientific research. The central tension revolves around whether funding from the sugar industry distorted health guidelines. Critics note that there was a financial relationship between researchers who were skeptical of the role of sugar in negative health outcomes and the sugar industry. Defenders note that these researchers had a track record of independence (i.e., publishing research that cut against the interest of their funders) and that science is messy. They claim that to infer from the mere existence of funding from the sugar industry to the claim that there was a concerted effort to mislead the public is conspiratorial and arises from an overly simplistic view of how science works. This example seems to highlight cases where industry funded good, but ultimately flawed, scientific work that nevertheless served their interest. An instructor might probe the extent to which students' concern about industry funding depends on such research being contentious by today's standards. For example, ask students to imagine a world in which the original research on the negative health outcomes of fat was essentially correct, but the sugar industry had been prohibited from funding research which defended the hypothesis from its critics.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Philosophy

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