Fall 2011 - Graduate Course Descriptions
Description of Course:
Many scientists and philosophers defend the value-free ideal of science, and many social and political institutions are based on that ideal.
The value-free ideal includes the following cluster of ideas: science is neutral with respect to our values, ideologies, politics, and morals. Except for some restrictions on the ethics of research where humans and other animals are affected directly or indirectly, there ought to be no political or ethical restrictions on science. The application of science is not part of science proper, but rather part of technology, and only the latter is responsible for those applications. Strictly speaking, science has no impact on our values, either, though religious or moral frameworks which presuppose beliefs about the world in conflict with science must give way. And so on.
In this course, we will analyze in depth the value-free ideal and a host of challenges to that ideal. We will look at arguments that values (cognitive, social, ethical) play a role in different parts of the scientific process. We will also examine claims that science does or should transform our values. We will look at questions about the relation between science and use, especially use in policy, and how political and evaluative considerations come in to the use of scientific evidence in policy. Not only do scientific results regularly shape policy, but scientific funding decisions and legal regimes are shaped by political and social institutions, and we will look at the ways in which political (social, economic, etc.) institutions can and should alter or limit science.
* Heather Douglas, Science, Policy, and the Value-Free Ideal
* The Challenge of the Social and the Pressure of Practice: Science and Values Revisited
* Mark B. Brown, Science in Democracy: Expertise, Institutions, and Representation
* Kitcher, Science in a Democratic Society
* Kim Stanley Robinson, Fifty Degrees Below
* Paul Feyerabend, The Tyranny of Science
I've put in an order at the bookstores for the following texts which may provide introductory material or material for further research. None is necessary for the course, though each is helpful for different topics.
Introductory to philosophy of science and STS
* Peter Godfrey-Smith, Theory and Reality
* Frederick Grinnell, Everyday Practice of Science
* Steve Fuller, The philosophy of science and technology studies
Collections of essays
* Keller and Longino, Feminism and Science
* Value-Free Science? Ideals and Illusions
* Science, Values, and Objectivity
* Democratization of expertise? Exploring novel forms of scientific advice in political decision-making
Monographs related to the course
* Janet Kourany, Philosophy of Science after Feminism
* Philip Kitcher, Science, Truth, and Democracy
* Helen Longino, The Fate of Knowledge
* Sheila Jasanoff, The fifth branch: science advisers as policymakers
The other books in Kim Stanley Robinson's *Science in the Capital* series
* Kim Stanley Robinson, Forty Signs of Rain
* Kim Stanley Robinson, Sixty Days and Counting
Course Requirements/Evaluation Criteria:
Students must attend class, keep current with the readings, and participate in class discussions, and they will be required to make one or more in-class presentations, and to write a research paper.