top of page

Values and Scientific Classification

The pursuit of natural kinds is expected to be successful as long as it is not detracted by external factors, such as social, political, and moral considerations. The assumption that natural kinds are independent of human interests is part and parcel of value-free science. I respond to a common concern that when categories in the social sciences are created to serve social aims, they fail to track natural kinds; as a result, they lose their value as a scientific category. I argue that rather than diminishing the epistemic value of a category, contextually driven value commitments can lead to the epistemic improvement of the category.

(2020) "How Non-Epistemic Values Can Be Epistemically Beneficial in Scientific Classification," Studies in History and Philosophy of Science, 84, 57-65. Official Version PhilSci Archive

(under review) Social Entrenchment

The Complexity of Values in Science

In contrast to the diversity of roles values play in science, scholarship tends to present a simplified image of how values shape scientific decisions: values – based on their relative moral standing – have either positive or negative influences throughout an inquiry. It is a contingent matter, open to empirical investigation, what causal influences values have within an inquiry in a particular context. I believe that resisting the over-generalization of value influences can give us a more realistic and comprehensive picture of how scientific inquiry works within its social context. 

(in preparation) A Contextual Analysis of Values in Theory Appraisal

bottom of page