Science and Values: The Aims of Science and Their Role in Scientific Debate

Science and Values: The Aims of Science and Their Role in Scientific Debate

Science and Values: The Aims of Science and Their Role in Scientific Debate

Science and Values: The Aims of Science and Their Role in Scientific Debate

Synopsis

Laudan constructs a fresh approach to a longtime problem for the philosopher of science: how to explain the simultaneous and widespread presence of both agreement and disagreement in science. Laudan critiques the logical empiricists and the post-positivists as he stresses the need for centrality and values and the interdependence of values, methods, and facts as prerequisites to solving the problems of consensus and dissent in science.

Excerpt

Book titles can be enormously misleading. the reader of this work, on pulling it off the shelf for the first time, may well expect from the spine to see me grappling with vexed questions about the relations between science and ethics. He may even imagine that this essay is one more contribution to the burgeoning, and decidedly second-rate, literature that agonizes over the ethical dilemmas posed by a science and technology widely, if probably wrongly, perceived to be running out of control. Let me quickly set the record straight by stating quite clearly that this book is neither about how to make scientists more moral nor about how to make moral theory more scientific, however desirable at least one of those outcomes might be.

It fails to be the one because I am under no illusions that I could tell scientists anything about the morality of their research which they do not already know; it is not the other because, although it is devoutly to be wished that moral philosophers knew more than they do about science, I would not know how to recognize a scientific ethics if I were confronted by one. These are doubtless splendid topics, but they happen not to be my topics. My concern in this book is not with moral values, but with cognitive ones; not with ethical norms and rules of conduct, but with methodological norms and rules. the fact that

1. I have tried to explain why in Laudan, 1982.

2. the question of precisely how one distinguishes cognitive values or aims from noncognitive ones is quite complex. For purposes of my analysis here, we can adopt

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