On science and values, accepted and forthcoming

My paper Science, Values, and the Priority of Evidence has been accepted at Logos&Episteme. I worked over the manuscript to meet their style guidelines, sent it off, and put the last draft on my website. Since it’s an OA journal, in the gratis and author-doesn’t-pay sense, I will swap in the published version when it appears.

Now that the paper is actually forthcoming, it can be cited rather than having the ideas from it attributed to me by second-hand personal communication.

On the up side, the time it took for the paper to find a home means that I’m able to reference some things have been published in the meantime. I clarify a point with Stijn Conix, and I respond briefly to Christopher ChoGlueck’s so-recent-it’s-now article.1

It is standard to distinguish two arguments for the claim that values legitimately play a role in scientific belief formation. Here I’ll paraphrase my paper:

The tie-breaker argument: In cases of underdetermination, the usual standards of evidence are insufficient to decide among competing hypotheses. In such cases, scientists may responsibly select the hypothesis which best accords with their value commitments.2

The argument from ampliative risk: Anytime a scientist announces a judgment of fact, they are making a tradeoff between the risk of different kinds of error. This balancing act depends on the costs of each kind of error, so scientific judgment involves assessments of the value of different outcomes.3

ChoGlueck argues that “the error argument [is] a special, limited case of the gap”; in my terms, that the argument from ampliative risk is a special case of the tie-breaker argument.4 He uses this to argue that the tie-breaker argument is where the real action is.

In my paper, I show how several objections to the tie-breaker argument just make no sense against the argument from ampliative risk.5 This suffices to show that the latter isn’t an instance of the former.6

  1. “The Error Is in the Gap: Synthesizing Accounts for Societal Values in Science”, Philosophy of Science, 85 (October 2018) pp. 704-725.
  2. This is also called the gap argument.
  3. This is also called the argument from inductive risk (AIR) and the error argument.
  4. p. 715
  5. The objections are what I call the wait-and-see reply and (following Brown) the lexical priority of evidence.
  6. I worry that my reading of ChoGlueck may be uncharitable here, and that maybe he’s talking about two different arguments than the ones I’m talking about. It is hard to tell, because he doesn’t exactly say what he takes the arguments to be. Instead, he characterizes each as having “four features” which he sketches in the broad terms. His elaboration of the features sweeps in considerations as diverse as the problem of empirically equivalent rival theories, the Duhem/Quine problem, the fallibility of observation, the theory laden-ness of observation, and the alleged inevitability of bias in reasoning.

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