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Science is the process of gaining new or deepening existing knowledge about phenomena of interest. The choice of subject and method as well as the process of disseminating research and its results is in the responsibility of the scientist in pursuing as high degrees of rationality as possible.
Central places of scientific life are universities. The history of the university as a European institution shows that strong ties between research and teaching ensure a high level of dynamism and quality in the increase of knowledge, because this systematically connects the process of asking questions and gaining answers. The discourse within the community of teachers and learners forces scientists in their function as teachers constantly to review their own thoughts and actions.
Of crucial importance for the quality of science in the biographical context of the scientist is to grant the freedom of science in teaching and research by fundamental rights in order to avoid a narrowing of ideas. In Austria, this freedom in the academic field is also ensured by an international outstanding example of the institutional framework for universities and other higher education institutions. However, the responsible use of these conditions to promote freedom and diversity remains in the responsibility of the members of the scientific community. We have to continuously check whether we live up to this responsibility.
The responsibility of the scientist towards society requires that the choice of research subjects and methods as well as his actions in scientific institutions should not be guided solely by personal interest. Also social relevance of topics is decisive in order to grant the value and promote the acceptance of science - regardless of whether the results are desired or currently appreciated in the society or even within the scientific community. A price of the freedom of science can also be an inconvenient personal positioning.
© Dr. Wolfgang Mazal 2017