The article is concerned with the question of the form and extent of the influence of positivism on the approach to the ethics of science in the Czech context. Although the history of Czech positivism has been relatively well investigated, it is often the subject of sweeping negative assessments that typically characterise it as equivalent to a narrow scientism lacking in values. This characterisation, however, is really only appropriate to a kind of positivism which made very little impact on the Czech philosophical tradition. The author reminds us that Czech positivists were pupils of T. G. Masaryk who exerted a strong influence on them, particularly in the area of ethics, which in turn influenced their ethics of science. In comparison with European neo-positivism (whose philosophy of science was not, for historical reasons, able to properly flourish in the Czech context), this current of thought contained a strong attachment to the aim of objective knowledge, which explains the resistance of both totalitarian regimes to Czech positivism and its representatives. While neo-positivism, in its traditional role of constituting the theoretical and methodological basis of science, concerned itself with the internal problems of science, ignoring the social context, Czech positivism, as represented by F. Krejčí, J. Tvrdý, E. Chalupný and others, was significantly involved with the development of society. The influence of Czech positivism (despite all its philosophical shortcomings) cannot be criticised for giving insufficient attention to the social context of the development of science or for lacking interest in the questions of the ethics of science.
Financed by the National Centre for Research and Development under grant No. SP/I/1/77065/10 by the strategic scientific research and experimental development program:
SYNAT - “Interdisciplinary System for Interactive Scientific and Scientific-Technical Information”.