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L 175 Reliance on the value-free ideal has produced something of a mess. Scientists have thought that any consideration of ethical or social values, particularly in the assessment of evidence, would undermine scientific integrity and authority. Yet one cannot adequately assess the sufficiency of evidence without such values, especially in cases where science has such a profound impact on society. Thus, a crucial source of disagreement among scientists has remained hidden, unexamined and unacknowledged. This has heightened the sound science–junk science disputes, as a lack of expert consensus often leads to charges of junk science on one side or the other. When junk science reduces to name calling, neither the integrity nor the authority of science is well served, nor is the policymaking that depends upon good science. It is time to reject the value-free ideal and replace it with something better. The value-free ideal, in its most precise form, dates to the late 1950s. Ironically, it was forged by philosophers of science just when scientists were taking on an increasingly public role that belied the isolationist premise of the value-free ideal. Once this isolationist premise is discarded, the justification for the value-free ideal crumbles. With a full understanding of the public role of science, a new ideal becomes both possible and necessary. The new ideal starts with a careful examination of the moral responsibilities of scientists. Because of the important public authority of science, the basic responsibilities to take care when making empirical claims, to consider the consequences of error of both making overly strong or overly weak claims, cannot be ignored or set aside by scientists. Although scientists can recruit assistance in shouldering this responsibility, they can never be completely free from it. We will always need scientists to interpret their data, to Epilogue Douglas text.indd 175 4/16/09 2:47:21 PM 176 • epilogue make clear statements about uncertainties, and to clarify what is at stake in our subsequent decisions. Scientists must make judgments to fulfill these roles, and with judgment comes responsibility. Yet, the values that are a needed component of scientific judgment must also be constrained in how they function in science. Even in rejecting the value-free ideal, we would be foolish to allow values to serve in the same role as evidence throughout the scientific process. That would indeed undermine the value of science itself, its basic integrity and authority. However , we can retain the baby and throw out the bathwater by differentiating between the roles values play in science, and restricting values to the indirect role at key epistemic moments in science—particularly when assessing the strength of evidence for empirical claims. Thus, scientific integrity consists in keeping values to their proper roles, not in limiting the values that have a role to play. Scientific objectivity rests in part on this distinction, as at least one component of scientific objectivity depends upon keeping distinct the roles values play in reasoning. There are other aspects to objectivity as well, each with its own ability to bolster our trust in a claim, and with its own potential pitfalls. Scientific claims can be checked against several aspects of objectivity to see which might be the most trustworthy; the complexity of objectivity is of great practical use. Yet the core of scientific integrity remains the restriction on a direct role for values to only appropriate stages, where values legitimately serve as reasons in themselves for a choice, such as in the selection of research projects. With this key protection of scientific integrity, the understanding of how science should be used to make policy shifts. No longer should social or ethical values, even case specific ones, be held apart from an assessment of evidence. Such values are essential to the assessment. Instead, the values should only weigh the significance of the remaining uncertainty. And, equally important in a democracy, the values should be made as explicit as possible in this indirect role, whether in policy documents or in the research papers of scientists. Making the values explicit will take some effort by scientists and policymakers . It may also be beneficial to bring the public directly into the process by allowing them to help make the needed value judgments. Research on social mechanisms to effect such participation has begun, and should be pursued with vigor. These efforts at public involvement will complicate the policy process, moving away from the linear model of facts first, value judgments later. But this is...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9780822973577
Related ISBN
9780822960263
MARC Record
OCLC
794702159
Pages
224
Launched on MUSE
2012-01-01
Language
English
Open Access
No
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