Kevin C. Elliott

in Is a Little Pollution Good for You?

Published in print January 2011 | ISBN: 9780199755622
Published online January 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199827121 | DOI:

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This final chapter reviews the book's major claims and considers important directions for future scholarship. The analyses in the preceding chapters suggest at least three promising avenues for future work: (1) further philosophical studies of the roles that various sorts of values should play in scientific research; (2) new scientific investigations of the biological effects of toxicants at low doses; and (3) ongoing social‐scientific research on how to incorporate a representative range of societal values in science. Regarding the role of values in science, leading philosophers of science disagree both about the extent to which scientific theory choice is underdetermined by epistemic values and about the conditions under which nonepistemic values should be employed in resolving this underdetermination. Related questions include whether the conceptual distinction between epistemic and nonepistemic values holds up to critical scrutiny and whether it is possible to draw a convincing distinction between practical decisions about how to act and epistemic judgments about what to believe. Regarding new scientific investigations, it is probably more important in the near future for scientific research to focus on hazards like endocrine disruption and toxic‐chemical mixtures than on hormesis, especially because sensitive populations like children are probably already exposed to mixtures of toxicants at levels above the hormetic dose range. Nevertheless, hormesis research may still be valuable in some fields, such as pharmaceutical development. Finally, with respect to social‐science research, it would be helpful to develop new strategies for addressing conflicts of interest, new research on the sorts of deliberative mechanisms that are effective in particular contexts, and further studies on how to effectively disseminate scientific information to its recipients.

Keywords: hormesis; toxicology; environmental policy; low dose; conflict of interest; deliberation; ethics of expertise; public participation; research ethics; science and values

Chapter.  4557 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Science

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