This article reports on the third phase of a comparative epistemological, ontological, and social analysis of a variety of approaches to investigating human behavior. In focusing on the fate of scientific ideas once they leave the context in which they were developed, I hope not only to show that their communication for a broader audience imposes a shape on their interrelations different than they seem to have in the research context, but also to suggest that a study comparing different approaches (...) to the same phenomenon is more illuminating than one that focuses on a single approach. (shrink)
Miriam Solomon's social empiricism is marked by emphasis on community level rationality in science and the refusal to impose a distinction between the epistemic and the non-epistemic character of factors ("decision vectors") that incline scientists for or against a theory. While she attempts to derive some norms from the analysis of cases, her insistent naturalism undermines her effort to articulate norms for the (appropriate) distribution of decision vectors.
In Science, Truth, and Democracy, Philip Kitcher develops the notion of well-ordered science: scientific inquiry whose research agenda and applications (but not methods) are subject to public control guided by democratic deliberation. Kitcher's primary departure from his earlier views involves rejecting the idea that there is any single standard of scientific significance. The context-dependence of scientific significance opens up many normative issues to philosophical investigation and to resolution through democratic processes. Although some readers will feel Kitcher has not moved (...) far enough from earlier epistemological positions, the book does represent an important addition to literature on science, society, and values. (shrink)
Each of the three papers offers a different model for the role philosophers of science might play in consideration of the relations of science to society. These comments address common themes in the three papers, articulate further questions for each, and suggest some historical shifts that require different forms of philosophical engagement now than in the early part of the century.
(Series copy) The new Oxford Readings in Feminism series maps the dramatic influence of feminist theory on every branch of academic knowledge. Offering feminist perspectives on disciplines from history to science, each book assembles the most important articles written on its field in the last ten to fifteen years. Old stereotypes are challenged and traditional attitudes upset in these lively-- and sometimes controversial--volumes, all of which are edited by feminists prominent in their particular field. Comprehensive, accessible, and intellectually daring, the (...) Oxford Readings in Feminism series is vital reading for anyone interested in the effects of feminist ideas within the academy. Can science be gender-neutral? In recent years, feminist critics have raised troubling questions about the practice and goals of traditional science, demonstrating the existence of a pervasive bias in the ways in which scientists conduct and discuss their work. This exciting volume gathers seventeen essays--by sociologists, scientists, historians, and philosophers--of seminal significance in the emerging field of feminist science studies. Analyzing topics from the stereotype of the "Man of Reason" to the "romantic" language of reproductive biology, these fascinating essays challenge readers to take a fresh look at the limitations--and possibilities--of scientific knowledge. (shrink)
Underdetermination arguments support the conclusion that no amount of empirical data can uniquely determine theory choice. The full content of a theory outreaches those elements of it (the observational elements) that can be shown to be true (or in agreement with actual observations).2 A number of strategies have been developed to minimize the threat such arguments pose to our aspirations to scientific knowledge. I want to focus on one such strategy: the invocation of additional criteria drawn from a pool of (...) cognitive or theoretical values, such as simplicity or generality, to bolster judgements about the worth of models, theories, and hypotheses. What is the status of such criteria? Larry Laudan, in Science and Values, argued that cognitive values could not be treated as self-validating, beyond justification, but are embedded in a three-way reticulational system containing theories, methods, and aims or values, which are involved in mutually supportive relationships (Laudan, 1984). My interest in this paper is not the purportedly self-validating nature of cognitive values, but their cognitive nature. Although Laudan rejects the idea that what he calls cognitive values are exempt from rational criticism and disagreement, he does seem to think that the reticulational system he identifies is independent of non-cognitive considerations. It is this cognitive/non-cognitive distinction that I wish to query in this paper. Let me begin by summarizing those of my own views about inquiry in which this worry about the distinction arises. (shrink)
Traits like simplicity and explanatory power have traditionally been treated as values internal to the sciences, constitutive rather than contextual. As such they are cognitive virtues. This essay contrasts a traditional set of such virtues with a set of alternative virtues drawn from feminist writings about the sciences. In certain theoretical contexts, the only reasons for preferring a traditional or an alternative virtue are socio-political. This undermines the notion that the traditional virtues can be considered purely cognitive.
This essay sets human reproductive technologies in the context of biological research exploiting the discovery of the structure of the DNA molecule in the early 1950s. By setting these technological developments in this research context and then setting the research in the framework of a philosophical analysis of the role of social values in scientific inquiry, it is possible to develop a perspective on these technologies and the aspirations they represent that is relevant to the concerns of their social critics.
Using the author's social analysis of scientific knowledge, two ways of understanding the importance of gender to the philosophy of science are offered. Given a requirement of openness to multiple critical perspectives, the gender, race and class structure of a scientific community are an important ingredient of its epistemic reliability. Secondly, one can ask whether a gender sensitive scientific community might prefer certain evaluative criteria (or virtues of theory or practice) to others. Six such criteria (several of which are at (...) odds with criteria accepted in mainstream science) are discussed. Their articulation prompts a series of philosophical questions, the answering of which would constitute one program (or more) of a gender sensitive philosophy of science. (shrink)
Predictions about the health risks of low level radiation combine two sorts of measures. One estimates the amount and kinds of radiation released into the environment, and the other estimates the adverse health effects. A new field called health physics integrates and applies nuclear physics to cytology to supply both these estimates. It does so by first determining the kinds of effects different types of radiation produce in biological organisms, and second, by monitoring the extent of these effects produced by (...) given levels of exposure. This essay examines the interplay between evidential constraints and external, contextual interests and values in studying the biological hazards of radiation. By analyzing the debate over linear vs. quadratic dose response models, the essay focuses on problems of developing quantitative, rather than qualitative, estimates of the risks of increased cancer incidence in an exposed population. (shrink)
This paper explores a number of recent proposals regarding "feminist science" and rejects a content-based approach in favor of a process-based approach to characterizing feminist science. Philosophy of science can yield models of scientific reasoning that illuminate the interaction between cultural values and ideology and scientific inquiry. While we can use these models to expose masculine and other forms of bias, we can also use them to defend the introduction of assumptions grounded in feminist political values.
Quantitative risk assessment suffers from a variety of problems--some internal and others external. Dale Hattis proposes that the problems of risk assessment can be cured by the development of risk assessment theory. I agree that theory can help address some of the internal problems, such as the failure to date to take the interaction of hazardous substances with other substances in the environment into account. I argue that the external problems such as the manipulation of inherent uncertainties by the politically (...) and socially interested, however, are less amenable to rectification by theory and require political solutions. (shrink)
The subject of this essay is the dependence of evidential relations on background beliefs and assumptions. In Part I, two ways in which the relation between evidence and hypothesis is dependent on such assumptions are discussed and it is shown how in the context of appropriately differing background beliefs what is identifiable as the same state of affairs can be taken as evidence for conflicting hypotheses. The dependence of evidential relations on background beliefs is illustrated by discussions of the Michelson-Morley (...) experiment and the discovery of oxygen. In Part II, Hempel's analysis of confirmation and the contrasting model of theory acceptance provided by philosophers such as Kuhn and Feyerabend are discussed. It is argued that both are inadequate (on different grounds) and the problems addressed by each are shown to be more satisfactorily approached by means of the analysis developed in Part I. In Part III, it is argued that if there are objective criteria for deciding between competing theories, these cannot be simply that one theory has greater evidential support than another. Finally, some further methodological questions arising from the analysis are mentioned. (shrink)