“Intrinsically” or just “instrumentally” valuable? On structural types of values of scientific knowledge

Debates about scientific (though rarely about otherforms of) knowledge, research policies or academic trainingoften involve a controversy about whether scientificknowledge possesses just “instrumental” value or also “intrinsic” value. Questioning this common simpleopposition, I scrutinize the issues involved in terms of agreater variety of structural types of values attributableto (scientific) knowledge. (Intermittently, I address thepuzzling habit of attributing “intrinsic” value to quitedifferent things, e.g. also to nature, in environmentalethics.) After some remarks on relevant broader philosophicaldebates about scientific knowledge, I pave a path throughthe (terminological) thicket of structural types of values. Our initial simple opposition is shown to conflate thedistinctions intrinsic/extrinsic and instrumental (or justuseful)/final. Next, I consider the value(s) of knowledgeand knowing in general and their possible value components(like the values of truth and justifiedness). After havingdiscussed the types of value of everyday knowledge,especially its functional and constitutive value (notionsintroduced earlier), I argue that these can or should alsobe attributed to scientific knowledge, thus departing fromboth objectivist and sociological views of science. One could say that I offer a certain defense of theintrinsic value of scientific knowing (and the inherentvalue of scientific knowledge) and some importantdifferentiations of its “instrumental values”. I alsocaution (in relation with my puzzle) against drawing hastymoral conclusions.
Keywords values of (scientific) knowledge  structuralvalue types  intrinsic  extrinsic  inherent  instrumental  functional and constitutive value  value components  purescientific research  value and moral obligation
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DOI 10.1023/A:1013166430912
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