Fact/Value Holism, Feminist Philosophy, and Nazi Cancer Research

Feminist Philosophy Quarterly 1 (1):1-12 (2015)
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Abstract

Fact/value holism has become commonplace in philosophy of science, especially in feminist literature. However, that facts are bearers of empirical content, while values are not, remains a firmly-held distinction. I support a more thorough-going holism: both facts and values can function as empirical claims, related in a seamless, semantic web. I address a counterexample from Kourany where facts and values seem importantly discontinuous, namely, the simultaneous support by the Nazis of scientifically sound cancer research and morally unsound political policies. I conclude that even by the criteria available at the time, Nazi cancer research was empirically weak, and the weaknesses in their research are continuous with their moral failures in just the ways predicted by the holism I support.

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Sharyn Clough
Oregon State University

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