It is becoming increasingly hard to deny that values play a role in scientific practice—specifically non-epistemic, non-cognitive, or contextual values, e.g., moral, political, social, aesthetic and aesthetic values. I will focus on the testing phase, where theories are compared with evidence and certified (or not) as knowledge, as this is the most central arena for discussion value-free vs. value-laden science. Traditionally, philosophers of science have accepted a role for values in practice because it could be ghettoized into the “context of discovery,” while the “context of justification” could be treated as epistemically pure. Once we turn from the logical context of justification to the actual context of certification in practice, to the testing of hypotheses within concrete inquiries conducted by particular scientists, we can no longer ignore the role of value-judgments.
There are two main arguments in the literature for this claim: the inductive risk argument and an argument based on the underdetermination of theory by evidence that I will call “the gap argument” (Intemann, 2005). While both of these arguments have been historically very important and have successfully established important roles for values in science, they share a flawed assumption, the lexical priority of evidence over values. There are several problems with this assumption, one of which is that its plausibility is closely related to the value-free ideal of science: the best science would be one where we were guided only by considerations of evidence. Wherever this is possible, we should prefer value-free science. However, this situation may be rare or impossible, and so we must allow value-judgments to play a role where the evidence leaves some uncertainty. The lexical priority assumption leads to a tension because it continues to recognize the normative weight of the value-free ideal of science. While these arguments have allowed their proponents to construct value-laden ideals of science that preserve some version of the objectivity of science, that alternative is rendered unstable by the lexical priority assumption. They may be taken as insisting that the value-free ideal is the real ideal; in circumstances where it is impossible to satisfy, we have to settle for a pragmatic compromise that is as close as possible.
This is taken from the introduction of a paper I'm working on, and I'm trying to work out how precisely to express this worry and whether the worry seems like a real worry. I'd appreciate hearing your thoughts.