Conceptual analysis and special-interest science: toxicology and the case of Edward Calabrese

Synthese 177 (3):449 - 469 (2010)
One way to do socially relevant investigations of science is through conceptual analysis of scientific terms used in special-interest science (SIS). SIS is science having welfare-related consequences and funded by special interests, e.g., tobacco companies, in order to establish predetermined conclusions. For instance, because the chemical industry seeks deregulation of toxic emissions and avoiding costly cleanups, it funds SIS that supports the concept of "hormesis" (according to which low doses of toxins/carcinogens have beneficial effects). Analyzing the hormesis concept of its main defender, chemical-industry-funded Edward Calabrese, the paper shows Calabrese and others fail to distinguish three different hormesis concepts, H, HG, and HD. H requires toxin-induced, short-term beneficial effects for only one biological endpoint, while HG requires toxin-induced, net-beneficial effects for all endpoints/responses/subjects/ages/conditions. HD requires using the risk-assessment/regulatory default rule that all low-dose toxic exposures are net-beneficial, thus allowable. Clarifying these concepts, the paper argues for five main claims. (1) Claims positing H are trivially true but irrelevant to regulations. (2) Claims positing HG are relevant to regulation but scientifically false. (3) Claims positing HD are relevant to regulation but ethically/scientifically questionable. (4) Although no hormesis concept (H, HG, or HD) has both scientific validity and regulatory relevance, Calabrese and others obscure this fact through repeated equivocation, begging the question, and data-tri mm ing. Consequently (5) their errors provide some undeserved rhetorical plausibility for deregulating low-dose toxins
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories No categories specified
(categorize this paper)
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history Request removal from index
Download options
PhilPapers Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy on self-archival     Papers currently archived: 9,360
External links
  •   Try with proxy.
  • Through your library Configure
    References found in this work BETA

    View all 9 references

    Citations of this work BETA

    No citations found.

    Similar books and articles
    Kevin Elliott (2004). Error as Means to Discovery. Philosophy of Science 71 (2):174-197.

    Monthly downloads

    Added to index


    Total downloads

    13 ( #100,585 of 1,089,153 )

    Recent downloads (6 months)

    1 ( #69,735 of 1,089,153 )

    How can I increase my downloads?

    My notes
    Sign in to use this feature

    Start a new thread
    There  are no threads in this forum
    Nothing in this forum yet.