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I'm engaged in a debate with a scientist over science and politics (I'm the political scientist). I'd like to know if the 'conduct' or 'process' of science is inherently 'political' or is it 'value-free'? Is science as a 'body of knowledge' political?

It is certainly possible to show, empirically, that the naturalsciences are very often influenced by political forces, broadlyspeaking. For example, the practices of scientists of all disciplinesare demonstrably affected by: decisions about research funding andcriteria; how research problems are prioritized, ordered, evaluated,posed; how results are interpreted, published, ignored or celebrated;historically variable standardization of procedures forexperimentation, the selection and treatment of subjects, dataanalysis, recording or reporting; indeed, what even counts as'scientific'. But moving from this 'very often influenced' to'inherently political' is not easy. The question is no easier toanswer in the second form of it that you pose, concerning the 'bodyof knowledge'. On the one hand knowledge appears impersonal andisolated from its conditions of production or use in the way thatscientific 'conduct' or 'process' is not. On the other, it might seemhopelessly abstract to claim for a body of knowledge...
It is certainly possible to show, empirically, that the natural sciences are very often influenced by political forces, broadly speaking. For example, the practices of scientists of all disciplines are demonstrably affected by: decisions about research funding and criteria; how research problems are prioritized, ordered, evaluated, posed; how results are interpreted, published, ignored or celebrated; historically variable standardization of procedures for experimentation, the selection and treatment of subjects, data analysis, recording or reporting; indeed, what even counts as 'scientific'. But moving from this 'very often influenced' to 'inherently political' is not easy. The question is no easier to answer in the second form of it that you pose, concerning the 'body of knowledge'. On the one hand knowledge appears impersonal and isolated from its conditions of production or use in the way that scientific 'conduct' or 'process' is not. On the other, it might seem hopelessly abstract to claim for a...

In relation to the debate raging in the US about evolution and Intelligent Design, I would like to know whether positing the existence and prior activity of an intelligent designer is a scientific or a philosophical question. Is it scientifically conceivable that the existence of a designer and of things having come about purposefully as opposed to randomly could ever be deduced from available or putative evidence?

If I may add one additional point to the ones already given: there is an all important difference between an intelligent designer that is a human being or an advanced alien civilisation, and an intelligent designer that is divine. The former could have evidence in its favour, and could be the object of scientific enquiry at least in principle . (We could in principle meet the aliens and ask them 'why did you make tigers?') The latter could not. The reason is contained in some of the arguments that Hume and Kant put forth against the classic arguments for the existence of a God. Namely, that the act of a divine being upon nature (a miracle) could not provide evidence for the being's divinity .