Megascience Amid Cultural and Civilizational Schism
Tectonic changes in the landscape of international cooperation over the past few years (and especially in connection with Russia's full-scale war with Ukraine), have ushered in a period of erosion of the interpersonal and scientific bonds between the Western world (now including Central and Eastern Europe) and Russia. Against the background of Russia's attempts to justify its civilizational uniqueness, these changes may signify a pivotal juncture in the history of global scientific cooperation. Among our prioritized research inquiries in this project is the question of whether science (primarily the natural sciences) can or should continue to serve as an instrument of scientific diplomacy, akin to its role during the Cold War.

Vitaly Pronskikh

PhD(Physics), PhD (Philosophy); The Center for Philosophy of Science, University of Pittsburgh, associate member

Andrey Zhavoronkov, Dimitri Bayuk
It is urgently important to explore the feasibility and coherence of developing big science in isolation from the global community. Collaborative agreements between Russian scientific organizations and CERN, their largest international partner in high-energy physics (situated in Switzerland and France), are set to conclude as early as 2024, with no extension currently planned. Meanwhile, the majority of North American, Central, and Eastern European scientific organizations terminated cooperation with their Russian counterparts in 2022, leading countries such as Poland, the Czech Republic, and Ukraine to withdraw from the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research (JINR), the only international intergovernmental scientific organization on Russia’s territory. This was a profoundly painful loss for JINR’s scientists, whose close personal ties with the scientific communities of the withdrawn countries had been exceptionally fruitful since 1956. How can we forecast the long-term consequences of establishing or severing these once-strong connections? What epistemological and ethical arguments can be advanced in favor of continuing or discontinuing cooperation? Which among the proposed pathways for retaining the involvement of Russian scientists in CERN and other international projects would adhere to ethical standards?

Seeking to compensate for the loss of scientific contacts with other nations, Russian institutes have recently reported progress in developing collaborations with Asian nations. JINR has entered into new intergovernmental agreements with Mexico and China and invited scientists from countries in Asia, Africa, and Latin America to participate in its projects. This trend begs the following question: in what ways can shifting the focus of cooperation from Europe and North America to regions in Asia and the Global South introduce elements of Eastern epistemic and traditional cultures into scientific and technical practices, and possibly even civilizational traits (or technogenic sub-civilizations)?

Can one, in general, argue that isolationist and self-isolationist tendencies in the natural sciences evoke parallels with the national science movement that emerged among physicists in Germany in the 1930s, or do they bring with them new risks and opportunities? Within the scope of the project, we aim to explore the potential of philosophies of science, Russian and continental philosophies of dialogue, and social epistemology in creating new paths of development for collective scientific practices and resolving epistemic and sociopolitical conflicts within international scientific collaborations.

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