Who is afraid of values? Value-fact entanglements in scientific research – lessons from two case studies

Open to the Public
Nador u. 15
Monday, July 9, 2018 - 3:00pm
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Monday, July 9, 2018 - 3:00pm to 6:00pm

The workshop is organized jointly by the
Institute for Advanced Study & Department of Philosophy at CEU

The event is open to all but 
please register by completing this form until Monday, 6 July 2018

That values are part of science is a claim one often hears, a claim that is very controversial to some and almost trivial to others. The opinions range from ‘Science is not about values but facts; in order to be objective, science should be value-free’ to ‘Science is part of society and therefore cannot be completely free from valuations’. The relatively recent discussion in the philosophy of science, and especially the insights from feminist philosophers of science, complicate this polarized picture. Philosophers point to how values enter scientific research in direct and indirect ways and how they feature in background assumptions of scientific work. It is also discussed when exactly the presence of values in research is justified, how values influence and relate to objectivity, impartiality, disinterestedness, diversity of standpoints, and the autonomy of science.

In a small workshop, we will discuss two case studies in order to contribute to a nuanced view on the fact-value entanglements currently discussed in the philosophy of science. The focus will be on behavioural studies since these are so eminently relevant for social, moral and political issues.

Maria Kronfeldner will show how values sneak into scientific research through so-called “thick” (i.e. value-laden) scientific concepts, such as aggression. The aim is to show that value-freedom is not only inefficient for sciences as part of societies but also impossible because of an underdetermination problem. Values can hide behind the operationalizations used to get rid of them. Magdalena Małecka will analyse recent applications of the behavioural sciences to policy and point out the importance of the non-epistemic (value) considerations for designing nudging policies based on, and justified by, scientific insights. She demonstrates that even the way in which causes of behavioural change are identified in the behavioural research often conceals value judgments.

Maria Kronfeldner’s and Magdalena Małecka’s presentations will be commented by Csaba Pléh and Simon Rippon. 


 15:00        Arrival and Welcome

15:10 - 15:50       Maria Kronfeldner - Two reasons why the purist approach to science fails with respect to thick concepts

15:50 - 16:00     Brief Q&A

16:00 - 16:15     Coffee break

16:15 - 16:55     Magdalena Małecka -  How the discussion on values in science can advance the analysis of 'behavioural policy'.

16:55 - 17:05     Q&A

17:05 - 17:15     Comments by Csaba Pléh

17:15 - 17:25     Comments by Simon Rippon

17:25 - 18:00    General discussion