Values in Science and Political Philosophy

March 31, 2022 - April 2, 2022
Gould Center for Humanistic Studies, Claremont McKenna College

Claremont 91711
United States

This will be an accessible event, including organized related activities

View the Call For Papers

Selected speakers:

University of Arizona
Michigan State University
Rutgers University - New Brunswick
Harvard University
Stanford University
Harvard University


Claremont McKenna College

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The past decade has seen an explosion of work from philosophers and other scholars of science on the many respects in which core aspects of scientific research involve non-epistemic values.  Philosophers have argued that ethical, political, social, or personal values are needed when managing inductive risk, choosing and defining terms, setting model parameters, creating classification systems, selecting study endpoints, analyzing and summarizing data, and quantifying uncertainty.

Though debate continues concerning precisely which aspects of the scientific research process must or should be value-laden, more attention is now turning to how scientists should make the value judgments their work requires — how they should, for example, choose among alternative definitions of “Covid-caused death”, weigh the importance of different types of error in a climate model, or present the uncertainty in an economic forecast.  

Philosophy gives us (at least) two different approaches to making or assessing such value judgments:  one grounded in ethics or individual morality, the other grounded in political philosophy.  This workshop aims to explore the second approach, bringing together political philosophers, philosophers of science, and other scholars interested in the role of non-epistemic values in science to ask what it would mean for scientists to make the value judgments their work requires in a way that is politically legitimate, or that would contribute to just political systems.

A portion of the conference budget will be dedicated to offsetting carbon emissions associated with travel to the event.  The organizers expect to be able to make a virtual attendance option available for those unable to travel to southern California.  We anticipate, however, that all talks will be given in-person.  To submit an abstract for this event, see the associated CFP.

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March 1, 2022, 9:00am PST

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