Scientific objectivity and the logics of science

Abstract

This paper develops an account of scientific objectivity for a relativist theory of evidence. It briefly reviews the character and shortcomings of empiricist and wholist treatments of theory acceptance and objectivity and argues that the relativist account of evidence developed by the author in an earlier essay offers a more satisfactory framework within which to approach questions of justification and intertheoretic comparison. The difficulty with relativism is that it seems to eliminate objectivity from scientific method. Reconceiving objectivity as a function of the social character of science, rather than of individually practiced methods, allows us to claim that science is objective even if relativism is true, and provides a more realistic account of scientific objectivity than is possible on either the empiricist or the wholist accounts

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2009-01-30

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Helen Longino
Stanford University

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