Defending a Risk Account of Scientific Objectivity

British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 71 (4):1187-1207 (2020)
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When discussing scientific objectivity, many philosophers of science have recently focused on accounts that can be applied in practice when assessing the objectivity of something. It has become clear that in different contexts, objectivity is realized in different ways, and the many senses of objectivity recognized in the recent literature seem to be conceptually distinct. I argue that these diverse ‘applicable’ senses of scientific objectivity have more in common than has thus far been recognized. I combine arguments from philosophical discussions of trust, from negative accounts of objectivity, and from the recent literature on epistemic risks. When we call X objective, we endorse it: we say that we rely on X, and that others should do so too. But the word ‘objective’ is reserved for a specific type of reliance: it is based on the belief that important epistemic risks arising from our imperfections as epistemic agents have been effectively averted. All the positive senses of objectivity identify either some risk of this type, or some efficient strategy for averting one or more such risks.



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Inkeri Koskinen
University of Helsinki

References found in this work

The View From Nowhere.Thomas Nagel - 1986 - Oxford University Press.
Science, Policy, and the Value-Free Ideal.Heather Douglas - 2009 - University of Pittsburgh Press.
The Fate of Knowledge.Helen E. Longino - 2001 - Princeton University Press.
Trust and antitrust.Annette Baier - 1986 - Ethics 96 (2):231-260.

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