Epistemological Depth in a GM Crops Controversy

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Hicks, Daniel
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This paper examines the scientific controversy over the yields of genetically modified [GM] crops as a case study in *epistemologically deep* disagreements. Appeals to ''the evidence'' are inadequate to resolve such disagreements; not because the interlocutors have radically different metaphysical views (as in cases of incommensurability), but instead because they assume rival epistemological frameworks and so have incompatible views about what kinds of research methods and claims *count as* evidence. Specifically, I show that, in the yield debate, proponents and opponents of GM crops cite two different sets of claims as evidence, which correspond to two rival epistemological frameworks, classical experimental epistemology and Nancy Cartwright's evidence for use. I go on to argue that, even if both sides of the debate accepted Cartwright's view, they might still disagree over what counts as evidence, because evidence for use ties standards of evidence to what is sometimes called the ''context of application.''