Solomon's empirical/non-empirical distinction and the proper place of values in science

Perspectives on Science 16 (3):pp. 265-279 (2008)
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Abstract

In assessing the appropriateness of a scientific community's research effort, Solomon considers a number of "decision vectors," divided into the empirical and non-empirical. Value judgments get sorted as non-empirical vectors. By way of contrast, I introduce Anderson's discussion of the evidential role of value judgments. Like Anderson, I argue that value judgments are empirical in the relevant sense. I argue further that Solomon's decision matrix needs to be reconceptualized: the distinction should not be between the empirical vs. non-empirical, but between the relevant vs. irrelevant. Whether particular value judgments are relevant or not is an empirical question, to be decided on a case-by-case basis.

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Sharyn Clough
Oregon State University

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