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Ethics, Uncertainty, and the Benefits of Scientific DiversityThere has been an effort to reduce “waste” in medical research. One source of waste is disagreement about scientific questions in a given domain. Consensus is sometimes encouraged to increase research efficiency. Consensus has a dark side: by reducing diversity, consensus forecloses alternative avenues of research. In this paper distinguish “uncertainty about informativeness” and “uncertainty about vindication.” We argue that waste reduction which increases consensus about informativeness is productive. But efforts to force consensus about questions of vindication are likely to be counterproductive. We close by discussing the implication these arguments have for equipoise and for informed consent.
Carnegie Mellon University