Chapter

Uses of Value Judgments in Science

Elizabeth Anderson

in Out from the Shadows

Published in print March 2012 | ISBN: 9780199855469
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199932788 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199855469.003.0015

Series: Studies in Feminist Philosophy

Uses of Value Judgments in Science

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This essay critically examines the thesis that social science is value–neutral–that is, that it neither presupposes nor supports any nonepistemic (social, political, moral) value judgments. I argue that the standard arguments for value-neutrality are contradictory. Their real concern is not that scientific theories might have evaluative content, but that they might be held dogmatically. I demonstrate, through a detailed examination of a case study of feminist research on divorce, how to distinguish legitimate from illegitimate (dogmatic) uses of value judgments in science, and more from less epistemically fruitful values. I also argue that there is empirical evidence for value judgments, which lies in our emotional experiences to things in the world.

Keywords: value neutrality; emotions; Weber, Max; divorce; social science; values; dogmatism; feminist science

Chapter.  11378 words. 

Subjects: Feminist Philosophy

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