The CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Centre) has undertaken a radio series called “How to Think About Science”, a philosophical and social study of the structure of the institution of science. The series discusses topics such as the nature of social institutions that produce “what we know”, and how the experimental process has been historically, and is currently, structured. So far I’ve only had time to listen to Episode I, which begins with an intense, abstract philosophical explanation for what is now called “Science Studies”. The book “Leviathan and the Air-Pump” is the cornerstone for this new area of study, and its authors are interviewed as part of the CBC series.
If you are interested in ethics topics in biotechnology, you might find the philosophical topics of this series interesting. Later episodes deal with topics that might appeal to the more practically-oriented scientist, such as our definition and use of the word "gene". The series promises to provide arguments and criticisms of the scientific process that I suspect could cause one to reconsider the bodies of evidence (such as our discoveries that allow cloning and studying of genes) that define life as we know it. The objective for defining the scientific process is to improve public understanding of how discoveries are made and how scientists come to agree on certain conclusions, so that once the institution of "Science" makes a certain proclaimation on an issue, people know how that stance came to be. According to Leviathan author Simon Schaffer, trust is one of the most important issues in science today: Earning public trust, who to trust, and how trust and expertise are distributed in the scientific society.
Episodes from the series are available in MP3, iTunes and Podcast formats. Check it out at the CBC Ideas show webpage.