Values in Science beyond Underdetermination and Inductive Risk

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Brown, Matthew J.
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conference paper description
The thesis that the practice and evaluation of science requires social value-judgment, that good science is not value-free or value-neutral but value-laden, has been gaining acceptance among philosophers of science. The main proponents of the value-ladenness of science rely on either arguments from the underdetermination of theory by evidence or arguments from inductive risk. Both arguments share the premise that we should only consider values once the evidence runs out, or where it leaves uncertainty; they adopt a criterion of {lexical priority of evidence over values}. The motivation behind lexical priority is to avoid reaching conclusions on the basis of wishful thinking rather than good evidence. {The problem of wishful thinking} is indeed real---it would be an egregious error to adopt beliefs about the world because they comport with how one would prefer the world to be. I will argue, however, that giving lexical priority to evidential considerations over values is a mistake, and unnecessary for adequately avoiding the problem of wishful thinking. Values have a deeper role to play in science than proponents of the underdetermination and inductive risk arguments have suggested.