Science and values: a two-way direction

European Journal for Philosophy of Science 14 (1):1-23 (2024)
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Abstract

In the science and values literature, scholars have shown how science is influenced and shaped by values, often in opposition to the ‘value free’ ideal of science. In this paper, we aim to contribute to the science and values literature by showing that the relation between science and values flows not only from values into scientific practice, but also from (allegedly neutral) science to values themselves. The extant literature in the ‘science and values’ field focuses by and large on reconstructing, post hoc, how values have influenced science; our reconstruction of the case studies, instead, aims to show that scientific concepts and methods _too, because of specific identifiable characteristics,_ can promote some values rather than (or at the expense of) others. We explain this bidirectional relation in analogy to debates on the normativity of technical artifacts and on feminist approaches in science, and we illustrate our claims with cases from the health sciences and machine learning. While our arguments in this paper also draw on post hoc reconstructions, we intend to show where, in the science in the making, we should engage not only with the question whether a practice is value-laden, but also how specific conceptual and methodological choices can influence values down the road. All in all, these considerations expand the ways in which philosophers can contribute to more value-aware scientific practices.

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References found in this work

Health as a theoretical concept.Christopher Boorse - 1977 - Philosophy of Science 44 (4):542-573.
The Scientist Qua Scientist Makes Value Judgments.Richard Rudner - 1953 - Philosophy of Science 20 (1):1-6.
Inductive risk and values in science.Heather Douglas - 2000 - Philosophy of Science 67 (4):559-579.
Do artifacts have politics?Langdon Winner - 1980 - Daedalus 109 (1):121--136.

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