Constructive Empiricism and the Role of Social Values in Science

Vale-Free Science - Ideals and Illusions (2007)
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One of the most common criticisms one hears of the idea of granting a legitimate role for social values in theory choice in science is that it just doesn’t make sense to regard social preferences as relevant to the truth or to the way things are. “What is at issue,” wrote Susan Haack, is “whether it is possible to derive an ‘is’ from an ‘ought.’ ” One can see that this is not possible, she concludes, “as soon as one expresses it plainly: that propositions about what states of affairs are desirable or deplorable could be evidence that things are, or are not, so” (Haack 1993a, 35, emphasis in original). The purpose of this chapter is not to determine whether this widespread view is correct, but rather to show that even if we grant it (which I do), we may still consistently believe that social values have a legitimate role in theory choice in science. I will defend this conclusion by outlining a view about social values and theory choice that is available to a Constructive Empiricist anti-realist, but not to a realist.
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