Rehabilitating neutrality

Philosophical Studies 163 (1):77-83 (2013)
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Abstract

This article responds to Janet Kourany’s proposal, in Philosophy of Science after Feminism, that scientific practices be held to the ideal of ‘socially responsible science’, to produce results that are not only cognitively sound, but also significant in the light of values ‘that can be morally justified’. Kourany also urges the development of ‘contextualized philosophy of science’—of which feminist philosophy of science is exemplary—that is ‘politically engaged’ and ‘activist’, ‘informed by analyses of the actual ways in which science interacts with the wider society in which it occurs, the ways in which science is shaped by and in turn shapes society’, and that can contribute to understanding both the cognitive and social dimensions of science. Although I share Kourany’s commitment to contextualized philosophy of science, I question her proposed ideal of ‘socially responsible science’ and the grounds she provides for adopting it. My argument leads me to defend rehabilitating the traditional ideal of the ‘neutrality’ of science, which I reinterpret as the ideal of ‘inclusiveness and evenhandedness’

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