This paper asks and suggests some answers to the question: why should, and how can, political protections be given to scientific freedom? To start to address this big question, I will pose and work through three smaller questions. Each of these forms a part of the ground that needs to be covered as we think about the theoretical themes and practical challenges raised at this Congress. The first is: how do we best characterise ‘scientific freedom’, and the relationship between ‘science ethics’ and political morality’? The second is: why and how do we value scientific freedom? And the third is: what are political protections of science, and how should we frame them? The analysis is rooted in a concern to provide both conceptual and normative clarity to debates on the relationships between free scientific inquiry and political morality. The aim is to explain tensions between commitments to sound science and to justifiable politics, and to explore possible means of resolving problems that arise given such tensions.