False paradoxes of the protection of freedom of scientific research

Ewa Łętowska


The article asks the questions:
– How far can the authorities interfere with freedom of speech/freedom of scientific research? By what means and how can one effectively defend oneself against direct and indirect interference and manipulation?
– Can it be punished if someone considers the results of research to violate his or her personal rights (an open catalog: e.g. good name, cult of the deceased, or even “the right to national identity and pride”)? Is it then possible to demand withdrawal/correction of the scientist's findings or compensation?
Today, threats to the freedom of scientific research are made not so much by censoring science as by threatening the autonomy of universities; controlling the conditions of doing science (its dissemination); discouraging certain topics; self-censorship caused by a chilling effect.  This is dangerous in flawed democracies, where no attention is paid to pluralism in the exercise of freedom and to ensuring some minimum protection of minority interests and proclaimed views. And at the same time in poor countries, where little resources are allocated to science, which induces the phenomenon of “chasing away from the bowl” and “rewarding with a better bowl”. Money allocated to science is a very effective means of both promoting and eliminating views. The existence of this phenomenon increases the perceived threat to freedom, even without explicitly encroaching on it (the chilling effect). Freedom of speech, freedom of scientific research are exposed to a specific threat conducted on attacks and an attempt to limit or even eliminate them – paradoxically – in the name of allegedly threatened pluralism of ideas and views. In this situation, the attackers use the idea of protecting individual freedom for expansive purposes. Not in the name of freedom of expression of one's own axiology, but in the name of forbidding this expression to others.


freedom of speech; freedom of scientific research; protection of privacy; Strategic Litigation Against Participation in Public Life

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