In an effort to move social justice issues higher on R&D policy-making agendas, we ask whether new technoscientific capacities introduced into a non-egalitarian society tend disproportionately to benefit the affluent and powerful. To demonstrate plausibility of the hypothesis, we first review examples of grossly non-egalitarian outcomes from military, medical, and other R&D arenas. We then attempt to debunk the science-inequity link by looking for substantial categories where R&D is conducive to reducing unjustified inequalities. For example, R&D sometimes enables less affluent persons to purchase more or better goods and services. Although the case for price-based equity proves weaker than normally believed, R&D targeted towards public goods turns out to offer a reasonable chance of equity enhancement, as do several other potentially viable approaches to science policy. However, major changes in science-policy institutions and participants probably would be required for R&D to serve humanity equitably.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Geography, Planning and Development
- Public Administration
- Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law