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Value-Free Science?Ideals and Illusions$
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Harold Kincaid, John Dupré, and Alison Wylie

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780195308969

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195308969.001.0001

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 Constructive Empiricism and the Role of Social Values in Science

 Constructive Empiricism and the Role of Social Values in Science

Chapter:
(p.164) 8 Constructive Empiricism and the Role of Social Values in Science
Source:
Value-Free Science?
Author(s):

Sherrilyn Roush (Contributor Webpage)

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195308969.003.0012

In her book Science as Social Knowledge, Helen Longino argued not only that social values are in fact ineliminable from theory choice in science but also that we ought to rewrite our ideals in such a way as to incorporate this fact. One of the most common criticisms of this idea of granting a legitimate role for social values in theory choice in science is that it just doesn't make sense to regard social preferences as relevant to the truth or to the way things are. According to Susan Haack, what is at issue is whether it is possible to derive an “is” from an “ought.” One can see that this is not possible, she concludes. Haack does not provide an argument for the view that it is impossible to derive an is from an ought, but the intuition she expresses is strong and widespread. This chapter shows that even if we grant this view, we may still consistently believe that social values have a legitimate role in theory choice in science. The chapter defends this conclusion by outlining a view about social values and theory choice that is based on the constructive empiricism (CE) of Bas van Fraassen. It is argued that some questions about what role social values may legitimately play in science look different depending on whether they are viewed from a realist perspective, according to which the aim of science is literally true description of reality, or from the point of view of a constructive empiricist antirealism, according to which the aim of science is empirical adequacy, the fit of a theory to the observables.

Keywords:   Helen Longino, Susan Haack, Bas van Fraassen, constructive empiricism

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