A new direction for science and values

Synthese 191 (14):3271-95 (2014)
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Abstract

The controversy over the old ideal of “value-free science” has cooled significantly over the past decade. Many philosophers of science now agree that even ethical and political values may play a substantial role in all aspects of scientific inquiry. Consequently, in the last few years, work in science and values has become more specific: Which values may influence science, and in which ways? Or, how do we distinguish illegitimate from illegitimate kinds of influence? In this paper, I argue that this problem requires philosophers of science to take a new direction. I present two case studies in the influence of values on scientific inquiry: feminist values in archaeology and commercial values in pharmaceutical research. I offer a preliminary assessment of these cases, that the influence of values was legitimate in the feminist case, but not in the pharmaceutical case. I then turn to three major approaches to distinguish legitimate from illegitimate influences of values, including the distinction between epistemic and non-epistemic values and Heather Douglas’ distinction between direct and indirect roles for values. I argue that none of these three approaches gives an adequate analysis of the two cases. In the concluding section, I briefly sketch my own approach, which draws more heavily on ethics than the others, and is more promising as a solution to the current problem. This is the new direction in which I think science and values should move.

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Citations of this work

Ideology Critique Without Morality: A Radical Realist Approach.Ugur Aytac & Enzo Rossi - 2023 - American Political Science Review 117 (4):1215-1227.
The new demarcation problem.Bennett Holman & Torsten Wilholt - 2022 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 91 (C):211-220.
Illegitimate Values, Confirmation Bias, and Mandevillian Cognition in Science.Uwe Peters - 2021 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 72 (4):1061-1081.
Facts and objectivity in science.Philippe Stamenkovic - 2023 - Interdisciplinary Science Reviews (2):277-298.

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References found in this work

After virtue: a study in moral theory.Alasdair C. MacIntyre - 1981 - Notre Dame, Ind.: University of Notre Dame Press.
Science, Policy, and the Value-Free Ideal.Heather Douglas - 2009 - University of Pittsburgh Press.
Against method.Paul Feyerabend - 1975 - London: New Left Books.
The Scientific Image.William Demopoulos & Bas C. van Fraassen - 1982 - Philosophical Review 91 (4):603.

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