Aesthetic values in science

Philosophy Compass 12 (10):e12433 (2017)
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Abstract

Scientists often use aesthetic values in the evaluation and choice of theories. Aesthetic values are not only regarded as leading to practically more useful theories but are often taken to stand in a special epistemic relation to the truth of a theory such that the aesthetic merit of a theory is evidence of its truth. This paper explores what aesthetic considerations influence scientists' reasoning, how such aesthetic values relate to the utility of a scientific theory, and how one can justify the epistemic role for such values. The paper examines ways in which the link between beauty and truth can be defended, the challenges facing such accounts, and explores alternative epistemic roles for aesthetic values in scientific practice.

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Milena Ivanova
Cambridge University

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