Exploring philosophical issues in the patenting of scientific and technological inventions
Thus far, the philosophical study of patenting has primarily focused on sociopolitical, legal, and ethical issues, such as the moral justifiability of patenting living organisms or the nature of (intellectual) property. In addition, however, the theory and practice of patenting entails many important problems that can be fruitfully studied from the perspective of the philosophy of science and technology. The principal aim of this article is to substantiate the latter claim. For this purpose, I first provide a concise review of the main features of the theory and practice of the patenting of scientific and technological inventions. Second, I discuss several philosophical issues implied by these features and explore the possible contributions of the philosophy of science and technology to the clarification, or resolution, of these issues. The seven features discussed are: patents as commercial monopolies on scientific and technological inventions, the contrast between natural and non-natural subject matter, the distinction between inventions and discoveries, the reproducibility of inventions, the question of the sameness of two inventions, the distinction between the invented and the protected object, and the contrast between material objects versus concepts and theories. The article concludes with some observations on the problems and prospects of the philosophical study of the theory and practice of patenting scientific and technological inventions.
Radder, H. (2013). Exploring philosophical issues in the patenting of scientific and technological inventions. Philosophy & Technology 26 (3), pp. 283-300.
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