The Challenge of the Social and the Pressure of Practice

The Challenge of the Social and the Pressure of Practice: Science and Values Revisited

MARTIN CARRIER
DON HOWARD
JANET KOURANY
Copyright Date: 2008
Pages: 304
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt9qh7nh
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  • Book Info
    The Challenge of the Social and the Pressure of Practice
    Book Description:

    InThe Challenge of the Social and the Pressure of Practice,philosophers, sociologists, and historians of science offer a multidisciplinary view of the complex interrelationships of values in science and society in both contemporary and historic contexts. They analyze the impact of commercialization and politicization on epistemic aspirations, and, conversely, the ethical dilemmas raised by "practically relevant" science in today's society. For example, much scientific research over the past quarter century has been guided by the financing that supports it. What effect has this had on the quality of research produced and the advancement of real knowledge?

    The contributors reveal how social values affect objectivity, theory, and the direction of inquiry, and examine the byproducts of external value systems in topics such as "expertise" and "socially robust knowledge," among others. They view science's own internal value systems, the earlier disconnection of societal values from the scientific process, and the plausibility of "value free" science.

    The Challenge of the Social and the Pressure of Practicepresents an in-depth analysis that places the role of values at the center of philosophical debate and raises questions of morality, credibility, and the future role of values in scientific inquiry.

    eISBN: 978-0-8229-7113-9
    Subjects: General Science, Philosophy

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. PREFACE
    (pp. vii-x)
  4. INTRODUCTION: Science and the Social
    (pp. 1-14)
    MARTIN CARRIER

    Science and values are thoroughly intertwined; the two always come as a package. This is the joint message of the contributions to the present volume. As natural as this sounds today, it can by no means be taken for granted. One might be tempted to think that science simply describes what there is and that no values beyond the appreciation of knowledge are involved in the business of the scientist. Science is expected to tell us what is the case—regardless of human intentions, wishes, or fears. Social and ethical values have no place in the laboratory. In fact, however,...

  5. Part I. The Play of Values within the Core Areas of Scientific Research
    • 1 MUST EVIDENCE UNDERDETERMINE THEORY?
      (pp. 17-44)
      JOHN D. NORTON

      According to the underdetermination thesis, all evidence necessarily underdetermines any scientific theory. Thus it is often argued that our agreement on the content of mature scientific theories must be due to social and other factors. In this chapter, I will draw on a long-standing tradition of criticism to argue that the underdetermination thesis is little more than speculation based on an impoverished account of induction. I will argue that a more careful look at accounts of induction does not support an assured underdetermination or the holism usually associated with it. Finally, I will urge that the display of observationally equivalent...

    • 2 VALUES AND THEIR INTERSECTION: Reduction as Methodology and Ideology
      (pp. 45-67)
      MARGARET MORRISON

      Typically when we think about values in science we think about the kinds of sociopolitical interests—what Longino (1986) calls contextual values—that sometimes negatively influence both the practice of science and its results. The consensus is that neither the political agendas of governments nor the discriminatory biases of societies should in any way determine the kind of research deemed worth pursuing; yet they sometimes do. It is generally agreed that allowing such interference results in bad scientific methodology, and compromises what we consider the objectivity of scientific knowledge and practice.

      Other kinds of values, sometimes referred to as cognitive...

    • 3 VALUES, HEURISTICS, AND THE POLITICS OF KNOWLEDGE
      (pp. 68-86)
      HELEN E. LONGINO

      Many philosophers have argued that scientific theory choice is guided by so-called “superempirical” values such as simplicity, comprehensiveness, or unification. While supporting acceptance of hypotheses that go beyond mere summations or generalizations of data, such values are held nevertheless to be epistemic, because they are held to be either truth-indicative or definitive of scientific understanding. Differently situated critics of the sciences dispute the claim of modern Western science to be value-free and truth-driven. In the United States, the most sustained critique has been articulated by feminist scientists, historians, and philosophers of science. In these reflections, I will draw on this...

    • 4 REPLACING THE IDEAL OF VALUE-FREE SCIENCE
      (pp. 87-111)
      JANET A. KOURANY

      The ideal of value-free science has enjoyed a long and distinguished career. Some see it already flourishing in ancient times with the Platonic separation of the theoretical and the practical and the privileging of the theoretical. Most, however, see it emerging with the rise of modern science in the seventeenth century and the idea that nature is merely matter in motion, devoid of qualities such as good and evil. They see it as well in the seventeenth-century idea that the study of nature is distorted by ethical concerns in much the way Bacon claimed such study is distorted by the...

    • 5 SCIENTIFIC VALUES AND THE VALUES OF SCIENCE
      (pp. 112-128)
      JAY F. ROSENBERG

      When it comes to saying something useful about science and values, one of the first things we need to do is to locate science. Richard Rorty, for example, distinguishes Platonists, who hold that science fundamentally consists of procedures for getting our representational “schemes” into increasingly better touch with the world’s “contents,” from Baconians, who “call a cultural achievement ‘science’ only if they can trace some technological advance, some increase in our ability to predict and control, back to that development” (Rorty 1991, 5, 47).¹ Roughly, Platonists view scientific inquiry as a source of epistemic authority, licensing ontological claims such as...

  6. Part II. The Demands of Society on Science:: Socially Robust Knowledge and Expertise
    • 6 HOW ROBUST IS ʺSOCIALLY ROBUST KNOWLEDGEʺ?
      (pp. 131-145)
      PETER WEINGART

      The academic debate on the democratization of expertise has reached the level of public politics. The U.S. National Research Council, in its studyUnderstanding Risk(Stern and Fineberg 1996), has suggested “collaborative analysis” as a method adding deliberation to risk analysis and risk evaluation, thus opening advisory processes to broader participation. The British House of Lords Select Committee on Science and Technology, reacting to the devastating loss of credibility of expertise after the BSE (mad cow disease) crisis, published the reportScience and Society(2000). Finally, and perhaps most prominently, the European Union, in a white paper on democratic governance...

    • 7 IN DEFENSE OF SOME SWEEPING CLAIMS ABOUT SOCIALLY ROBUST KNOWLEDGE
      (pp. 146-159)
      ROGER STRAND

      Scientific knowledge and practice, and the relationships between science and society, are the subjects of a great diversity of scholarly studies. Not only do the classical disciplines such as history, philosophy, sociology, and anthropology study various aspects of the scientific enterprise, but recent decades have seen the rise of new academic fields with their own methodologies developed in the quest to understand science. These include Science, Technology, and Society Studies (STS); the Sociology of Scientific Knowledge (SSK); actor-network theory (ANT), and so forth. Moreover, anybody knowledgeable in the philosophy of science will know that this apparently well-defined subdiscipline is by...

    • 8 THIRD WAVE SCIENCE STUDIES: Toward a History and Philosophy of Expertise
      (pp. 160-186)
      CHRISTOPHER HAMLIN

      Sociologists Harry Collins and Robert Evans call for a startling departure in science studies, the pursuit of “a normative theory of expertise” through a new form of inquiry, “Studies in Expertise and Experience” (SEE) (2002, 237). With regard to controversies ranging from the acceptability of human cloning to the safety of genetically modified foods, they urge a scholarship that will reconcile the competing demands for “extension,” that is, a public say in policy, and for technical legitimacy. This would be done by distinguishing expertise and adjudicating its application. Ideally, the circle would be squared: controversies would evolve and resolve in...

  7. Part III. The Exigencies of Research Funding:: Epistemic Values and Economic Benefit
    • 9 THE COMMUNITY OF SCIENCE®
      (pp. 189-216)
      JAMES ROBERT BROWN

      The idea of a community of science is one we all hold dear. We think of ourselves—all academics, not just scientists in the narrow sense—as pursuing common goals and doing so in a noncompetitive way. To be sure, there are rivalries, often bitter. And no doubt we would all like the recognition that comes with being the acknowledged discoverer of something new and important. But unlike rival corporations or warring nations, our self-image is one of serving the common good—knowledge is a gift to all. Robert Merton referred to this as “communism,” one of the ingredients in...

    • 10 SCIENCE IN THE GRIP OF THE ECONOMY: On the Epistemic Impact of the Commercialization of Research
      (pp. 217-234)
      MARTIN CARRIER

      The term “knowledge society” is frequently taken to express that science is among the chief economic resources of the modern world. At the onset of the twenty-first century, science assumes an economic role similar to that of coal and steel in the nineteenth century. Whether or not this picture is accurate, it is an undisputable fact that science is an important factor in economic development. In this context, science is not valued because it contributes to deciphering the code of nature but rather because of its practical impact. It is not epistemic virtues that are primarily valued but rather the...

    • 11 PROMOTING DISINTERESTEDNESS OR MAKING USE OF BIAS? Interests and Moral Obligation in Commercialized Research
      (pp. 235-254)
      MATTHIAS ADAM

      There can be little doubt that the ongoing and already well-advanced commercialization of considerable areas of scientific research is responsible for profound changes not only in the institutional but also the normative constitution of science. In particular, traditional norms such as disinterestedness or impartiality and the openness of scientific research have come under pressure. Many voices warn against the consequences of commercialization for the reliability, trustworthiness, and ultimately, progress of scientific research (for example, Ziman 2003). At the same time, other authors welcome these changes or some of their aspects, such as an increased orientation of science toward the needs...

  8. INDEX
    (pp. 255-262)