Contemporary Nativism, Scientific Texture, and the Moral Limits of Free Inquiry

Philosophy of Science 72 (5):1220-1231 (2005)
Some thinkers distrust Darwinist explorations of complex human behaviors, particularly investigations into possible differences in valued skills between genders, races or classes. Such projects, it is claimed, tend to have adverse effects on people who are already disadvantaged. A recent argument by Philip Kitcher both clarifies and generalizes this charge to cover a whole genre of scientific projects. In this paper I try to spell out and analyze Kitcher's argument. The argument fails, I suggest, because some of its key premises fail to convince. My analysis focuses on relevant facts about the role of inquiry in fallibilist contexts, the texture of belief in contemporary natural science, and the moral dimension of scientific research.
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