Trade-offs between Epistemic and Moral Values in Evidence-Based Policy

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Khosrowi, Donal
conference paper description
I examine the role and relationship of epistemic and moral values in the Evidence-Based Policy (EBP) paradigm. I argue that several epistemic values that play a crucial role in shaping standard EBP methodology stand in a trade-off relation with certain kinds of moral and political values. This is because the outputs afforded by standard EBP methods are insufficient for the pursuit of moral and political values that require information about the distribution of individual treatment-effects among agents in a population. I examine a potential reply to this standard concern, and argue that the changes to standard EBP methodology required for rendering research outputs informative about the distributive consequences of policy typically involve the sacrifice of several key EBP epistemic values at once. I expand on the implications of this trade-off for value-freedom and -neutrality in EBP.