Northwest Philosophy Conference
Central Washington University
November 7-8, 2014
Many people, perhaps most, think that if scientists let their political values affect their research then those values will interfere with their objectivity. The situation is presumed to be even worse when research is influenced by the political values of non-scientists, such as politicians, or otherwise politically-motivated individuals or groups (like feminists, gasp!). I think, however, that much depends on what we mean by political values, objectivity, and scientific research. I argue that political values affect scientific research all the time, and not always for the worse, indeed, sometimes for the better. This is counter-intuitive, I realize. At the very least, I need to show that and how we can make the distinction between political values that affect science for the better, and those that affect it for the worse. I admit that when we try to make this distinction, we might get it wrong. But this is no different than the other kinds of mistakes that scientists make all the time, that are then subject to correction. And of course we might get the distinction right. As we debate policy decisions affecting the fate of our planet, it is more important than ever that we get the distinction right.
Pacific University Undergraduate Philosophy Conference
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