Virtue ethics is a branch of moral philosophy that traces back to Aristotle. It emphasizes the role of character in ethical behavior and how the development of a proper character will lead an agent to act in a consistently good fashion. This idea has been developed philosophically as it applies to scientific practice, focusing on the distinctive or distinctively expressed scientific virtues such as curiosity, objectivity, skepticism and honesty, and articulating the relationship between science's epistemic and ethical values. But what do scientists themselves think about virtue? The goal of this empirical study is to investigate the degree to which scientists agree upon such virtues and how they are transmitted within the scientific community. We will interview a national sample of 1000 exemplary scientists, asking them a series of quantitative and open-ended questions to elicit their views about these and related matters. We anticipate that the information gleaned from this investigation will reveal that, in contrast to the stereotype of science as an amoral or value-free enterprise, there are constitutive ethical values that are broadly shared by scientists.
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