The Tolstoy-Poincaré controversy on ethics in science

In 1907, Henri Poincaré took up his pen in a passionate defence of the motto “science for its own sake’‘, in response to Tolstoy’s contention that science de facto depends on ethical decisions. This epic controversy, which pitted a scientific giant against a towering writer, set the tone for subsequent discussions on ethics and science.

After reading mathematics in Cambridge, Dr. Ray was an academic mathematician, notably in France, where she lives. She is presently a visiting scholar in the Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics, at the university of Cambridge. Her forthcoming book, ‘On Science: Concepts, Cultures and Limits’, is to be published by Routledge next year.