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1/16 Values in Science






Logical positivists
a. Dominated philosophy of science during early 20 th century
b. Big problem: science vs. pseudo-science
c. Big solution: get a clear definition of facts
i. Science is based on facts, but non-science fields arent
d. Obvious corollary: theres no room for values to influence
science. Ethics is not fact and is meaningless. The value-free
What is a Value?
a. Epistemic values values determining what makes a scientific theory
i. Consistency
ii. Accuracy
iii. Fertility
iv. Simplicity
b. Social (non-epistemic) values values supporting things other than
truth (includes ethical values)
i. Charity
ii. Democracy
iii. Anti-capital punishment
iv. Retributive warfare
Why Values at All?
a. Why not just one epistemic value: truth?
i. Values and standards change
Epistemic Values
a. Consistency
b. Accuracy
c. Fertility
d. Simplicity
e. Dopelts point: these values and the evaluation of them has changed
Changes in Values
a. What phenomena are good for theories to explain? What phenomena
are important?
i. Early chemistry
b. What kinds of evidence is needed to believe a theorys truth?
i. Newton and unobservables: Newton didnt want to believe in
what he could not see
ii. Thoughts changed as people had to realize that Newton was
c. Which epistemic virtues are required to believe a theorys truth? Which
are more or less important?
i. 19th century philosophy of science
d. What does it take to say a theory is accurate to observations?
i. Particle physics vs. social science
Is this a Problem
a. If science has values involved, doesnt that make it subjective rather
than objective, subject to changes in opinions, etc?




Is this a Good Thing?

a. Realizing that a debate is about values, then resolution can be better
i. Climate change, genetically-modified foods, nuclear power,
robotics, vaccines
Influence of Social Values
a. Nobody disputes that social values can have influence on sciences
from outside?
i. Whether projects get funding?
ii. Why people decide to enter science?
iii. What problems people decide to solve
b. The real question is whether or not social values have influence within
the practice of science?
The answer
a. Doppelt: No. They just set epistemic values
b. Longino: Yes. After all the data is taken into account, to adopt
particular theories, you make up the difference with background
c. Logical positivists: No. Science deals with fact
d. Douglas: Yes. Some scientific decisions have broader impacts, so that
influences how scientists make these decisions
e. Postmodernists: Yes. Epistemic values are social values