Remarks on Hansson’s model of value-dependent scientific corpus

Lato Sensu: Revue de la Société de Philosophie des Sciences 10 (1):39-62 (2023)
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This article discusses Sven Ove Hansson’s corpus model for the influence of values (in particular, non-epistemic ones) in the hypothesis acceptance/rejection phase of scientific inquiry. This corpus model is based on Hansson’s concepts of scientific corpus and science ‘in the large sense’. I first present Hansson’s corpus model of value influence with some introductory comments about its origins, a detailed presentation of the model with a new terminology, an analysis of its limits, and an appreciation of its handling of controversial non-epistemic values. I conclude that it is a very good candidate for managing value influence, because contrary to other models in the literature it is fairly simple, it provides a universal and systematic procedure for dealing with values, and it syste- matically preserves the epistemic integrity of science. I then study some difficulties associated with the model’s central feature of taking the maximum level of evidence required by the applications of a claim in order for the latter to enter the scientific corpus: the difficulty to identify this maximum requirement; the non-optimality of this requirement with respect to other less demanding requirements; the potentially detrimental consequences of the preference for false negatives over false positives on which it relies; and the issue of whether there can nevertheless be requirements higher than this maximum. I show that these issues may potentially challenge the corpus model. Finally, I call for empirical work (in particular, an investigation of scientists’ and engineers’ own normative views) in order to better assess these issues.

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Philippe Stamenkovic
Uppsala University


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